Notice: Important information about COVID-19 here.

Film shows the Paris you won’t see in postcards

Posted: November 15, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Mark Wihak, associate professor and head of the film department, presents Vous êtes ici. Wihak’s film looks at experiences of tourism in Paris.
Mark Wihak, associate professor and head of the film department, presents Vous êtes ici. Wihak’s film looks at experiences of tourism in Paris. Photo courtesy of Wanda Schmöckel

It has been said that Paris is always a good idea. Filmmaker Mark Wihak would certainly agree.

Wihak, associate professor and head of the department of film, has returned to the city he loves to produce his latest feature length film “Vous êtes ici” (You Are Here).

The movie will be screened at the Regina Public Library Film Theatre, November 17 and 18.

Vous êtes ici  looks at experiences of tourism in Paris , pulling back the curtain to look at a Paris you don’t see in postcards.

"I went to Paris to see the tourists,” says Wihak. "With a city like Paris, most of us go there for the first time primed with expectations raised by films and books and songs. It's a city full of romance and beauty and fantastic food. But for many of us, our experiences of the actual place are quite different from the way we imagined it would be."

Over several months of shooting, Wihak spoke with dozens of tourists from around the world about their time in Paris.

He also spoke with people whose livelihoods depend upon tourism including bus drivers, hotel and cafe owners, waiters, tour guides, street entertainers and guidebook writers.

"I've been fortunate to have been a tourist many times, and with this film I wanted to take a look under the hood of tourism,” says Wihak. “Tourism creates these intersections between those of us lucky enough to be tourists, and those who struggle on the margins of the economy. We met dozens of people from poorer countries who were trying to make a living in Paris by selling souvenirs or working as street entertainers."

Paris
"I've been fortunate to have been a tourist many times, and with this film I wanted to take a look under the hood of tourism” – Mark Wihak

Wihak notes that mass tourism doesn't just affect tourists' experiences of a place - it also affects the place itself.

"In some ways for the better, such as creating jobs and stimulating the local economy. And in other ways for the worse, like neighbourhoods overrun by tourists and the kinds of businesses that cater to tourists, but not the locals. I was trying to look at tourism from a number of angles,” he says.

The film features the song Oh, Montmarte from former Regina resident Kyrie Kristmanson, who's been living in Paris since 2010.

"Kyrie was in the original version of the band Rah Rah, who appeared in my film River, and it was great to see her perform as a solo artist in Paris when I was shooting Vous êtes ici. Her song evokes the melancholy I always feel as a tourist when I leave a city that I've come to love," says Wihak.

Vous êtes ici received support from the President's Fund, and used equipment from the department of film and the new media studio lab.
 
Event:  Vous êtes ici 
Venue: Regina Public Library
Dates:  November 17 – 9 p.m.
             November 18 – 7 p.m.

Wihak's previous films include the multi-award-winning dramatic feature River, and two broadcast documentaries on important developments in the Canadian art world: a history of the painters group known as the Regina Five - A World Away, and a survey of the Emma Lake Artists Workshops - Between the North Pole & New York City. He is a faculty member of the department of film at the University of Regina.