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Prolific French Director Claude Berri Dies at 74

Unless you’re French or a bit of a film buff, the name Claude Berri might not mean much to you, but this prolific actor/writer/producer/director with over a hundred movies to his credit was considered to be the most influential French film director in the past fifty years until his untimely death on Monday.

In a strange coincidence that seems to come right from the cinema itself, all of the big players in the French film industry just happen to be in Paris for tomorrow’s opening of “Rendez-vous with French Cinema” the festival which presents all of the latest French films to international distributors and journalists. It’s the third largest film market after the Cannes and Berlin festivals. Eulogies are expected amidst the pomp of the gala evenings, screenings and award dinners.

Some of his most memorable films include “Reine Margot” (as producer) and “Germinal”, while “Le Poulet” won an American Oscar and “Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis” almost broke the French box office record held by “Titanic”. An avid art collector, last year he opened his own contemporary art gallery, Espace Claude Berri.

If you’ve been reading the Secrets of Paris since 2004, you may remember that I moonlight as an extra in French films, two of them Claude Berri films, “L’Un Reste, L’Autre Part” and “Ensemble, C’est Tout”. My doggies are scheduled to be extras in his latest film, “Tresor” which began filming this month and will continue production under his co-director François Dupeyron. It will be interesting to see what the mood on set will be like.

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