A History of one photo – Luc Besson & Cité du Cinéma

My dear friends, thank you for visiting my site and showing your interest in this most recent rubric of mine: A history of the photo. As always it all started with one glance. Mylene looks stunning in her impeccable outfit strongly resembling Dior but yet by her favorite Jean-Paul Gaultier.

The elegant photos were taken on the red carpet (70 meters long to be exact) for the important occasion: inauguration evening of Luc Besson’s Cité du Cinéma, in Saint-Denis Friday, September 21 2012.

Mylène was accompanied by her friend the choreographer, dancer and make-up artist Christophe Danchaud.
The coat is from the Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2012-2013 collection by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I love it so much! You?

Jean-Paul Gaultier tweeted on Saturday : “My wife (sweet ! ), divine in haute couture last night at the Cité du Cinéma!”.

Americans were represented by Tommy Lee Jones, Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer or Salma Hayek accompanied by François-Henri Pinault. Haiti (but also the United States, where he filmed) was embodied by actor Jimmy Jean Louis, Malaysia by Michelle Yeoh and Germany via its ambassador Wim Wenders.

In short. Hollywood-sur-Seine has just given its first lesson in cinema. Indeed, after 12 years of maturation, one evening is enough for the doubts and mockery of this crazy project of a city but also of a school of the 7th art to bow to the realization of 62 000 m2, in a corner of the Parisian suburbs where everything is possible. Including a Stade de France, which not so long ago was hardly believed in either, was it?

Extracts from articles presenting this project by Luc Besson:
“It took twelve long years for Luc Besson, successful director (The Fifth Element, Le Grand Bleu, Nikita) and producer (the Taxi series, among others, via his company EuropaCorp), for his dream to come true and it is now possible in France to create a film from A to Z. And to transform an old thermal power station into a Cité du Cinéma, finally officially inaugurated on Friday 21 September. […] Shootings have already started at the Cité du Cinéma, in particular Luc Besson’s Malavita himself with Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, Twenty years apart, a comedy with Virginie Efira which will be released in March 2013, and the sequel to The Smurfs, by American Raja Gosnell. “Big American producers come to visit our studios and ask Euro Media for quotes”+

The inauguration day of the Cité du Cinéma, Friday, must end in style with a private dinner bringing together Sophie Marceau, Jean Dujardin, Jamel Debbouze, Alain Terzian, Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, among others. “(The World, 09/21/2012)
“At his side is Christophe Lambert, the smiling general manager of EuropaCorps, Luc Besson’s production company. Lambert fully assumes the nickname “Hollywood-sur-Seine” for the Cité and stresses that this place has no equal in Europe: “The Cité has competitors, but it has no equal in terms of strengths. It is the most recent, the most modern Cité . It’s the very best in terms of filming ability, technology involved in the very design of the sets. All the major American producers who have visited it are unanimous in saying that these are the most beautiful studios in the world. “

The Cité du Cinéma or Studios of Paris is a film studio complex originally supported and founded by the film director and producer Luc Besson, located in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, in a renovated power plant, commissioned in 1933 to power the Parisian metro.

The studio complex is intended to be a competitor of Cinecittà in Rome,  Pinewood in London and Babelsberg in Berlin. It was officially inaugurated on 21 September 2012.

The facility was originally designed in 2000 by Luc Besson. The project was officially launched in 2004, and required several months of technical specifications and financial structures. The project is now supported by major companies in the film and television production sector (film development, lighting, make-up etc.

The Cité du Cinéma was originally set to open in May 2012 in accordance with the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. After some minor delays it did finally open its doors on Friday, September 21, 2012 in the presence of many international movie stars and public figures (Dianna AgronTarak Ben AmmarSamuel BenchetritCarole BouquetClotilde CourauMireille DarcRobert De NiroJamel DebbouzeVirginie EfiraPascal ElbéMylène FarmerMarina FoïsWhoopi GoldbergSalma HayekJimmy Jean-LouisGérard KrawczykChristopher LambertJack LangMélanie LaurentVirginie LedoyenTommy Lee JonesGilles LelloucheBenoît MagimelSophie MarceauKad MeradGéraldine NakacheMichelle PfeifferJean RenoJean-Paul RouveLudivine SagnierMarie SaraÉric SerraVirginie SillaLaura SmetMelissa TheuriauJean TodtMichelle YeohElsa Zylberstein). On the occasion of the inauguration, a short film on the construction of the complex was shown to the visiting guests.

Let’s fast forward 10 years to the February 2022 and we will find out that producer Tarak Ben Ammar had finalized his acquisition of the Cité du Cinéma Studios of Paris, the deal is estimated in the $35-million range. And considering the initial investment of $216 million to build the studios makes this project the biggest flop in the French movie industry up to date. Giorgino failure doesn’t even begin to compare to what took place in the Cité du Cinéma. There were multitude of factors came to play quite unexpectedly for Luc Besson over the decade following the inauguration: long and dreadful allegations of sexual misconduct filed by a number of women which took years and very expensive legal defense team to address. In addition, covid pandemic which put many movie projects on hold. A long story short – Luc Besson had to sell his beloved studios.

Ben Ammar, who co-founded the Studios with Luc Besson a decade ago and owned a 25-percent stake in it, completed the acquisition via Eagle Pictures France, a subsidiary of the Italian production and distribution powerhouse. Ben Ammar took full ownership of the Studios from the former shareholders, including Besson, who owned a 9.9% stake in the complex through his holding company Frontline. The other shareholders who are set to exit the studios are EuropaCorp, Besson’s former production banner which is now mainly owned by Vine Alternative and has a 40% stake in the property, as well as Euromedia, a broadcast facilities provider who has a 25% stake. Other bidders who circled the Studios include U.S. funds such as Oaktree Capital Management and TPG Real Estate.

Mylène Farmer City of Cinema Luc Besson September 21, 2012

Mylène Farmer and Luc Besson

So why did Mylene show up in this event knowing how much she dislikes any social gatherings? The reason is simple -loyalty to her long time friend and collaborator Luc Besson. Let’s take a look at their work history, shall we?

Not many of you know that It is all actually started in 1983, when Mylène appeared in the a post-apocalyptic futuristic film  Le Dernier Combat , the first feature film directed by Luc Besson. We will only see her legs in two shots of the film. It was Luc Besson himself who told this anecdote in his book  L’histoire du Dernier Combat published in 1993.

Luc Besson, Michel Drucker, Mylène Farmer and Eric Serra in “Stars 90” broadcast on September 9, 1991 – Photographer: Bernard Mouillon

Luc Besson invited Mylène during the summer of 1991 to the Arctic on the set of his film Atlantis which was Mylène’s old dream to visit the North Pole.

Images of this trip will be broadcast in the program “Stars 90” on TF1 on September 9, 1991 , a program in which Mylène and Luc Besson participate. Mylène will also attend the premiere of the film Atlantis during the summer of 1991 in the ancient theater of the city of Orange in the Vaucluse.

At the end of November 1992, Luc Besson directed the clip Que mon cœur lâche. This is the first time that Mylène has been unfaithful to Laurent Boutonnat, who had directed all of her previous clips. Laurent Boutonnat is then immersed in the preparations for the film Giorgino in the vicinity of Prague and is therefore unable to make this clip.

In 2006, Mylène lends her voice to the character of Princess Sélénia in the French version of the film  Arthur et les Minimoys directed by Luc Besson and released on French screens on December 13, 2006. For American version it is Madonna who actually recorded Mylene’s part 🙂

On October 1, 2007, Mylène won the award for best “with the voice of” at the “NRJ Ciné Awards 2007” for her dubbing in Arthur et les Minimoys . Absent from the ceremony, it is Luc Besson who receives the prize for her.

Luc Besson and Mylène Farmer at the premiere of Arthur and the Minimoys

Mylène was present however alongside Luc Besson during Paris premiere of the film on November 27, 2006 on the Champs-Elysées. 

Mylène also recorded an interview for the promotion of the film and part of the dubbing of the film by Mylène was filmed. Excerpts will be broadcast on the program “Vivement dimanche” of which Luc Besson is the guest on December 3, 2006 on France 2 and we can find this report in the bonuses of the DVD of the film.

Luc Besson and Mylène Farmer in 2006 – Photo: Claude Gassian and Luc Roux

Mylène will once again lend her voice to Sélénia for the two other parts of Luc Besson’s Arthur saga, Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard released on December 2, 2009 and Arthur 3 The War of the Two Worlds released on October 13, 2010.

Mylene Farmer Arthur 3 The War of the Two Worlds 2010

Mylène granted a interview for the promotion of the film  Arthur 3 The war of the two worlds of which only a brief extract was broadcast in a report of the program “50 Minutes Inside” on TF1 on October 02, 2010 .


Luc Besson is one of the most recognizable figures in the European film industry, especially with his global successes as a writer for “The Fifth Element,” (1997), “Léon: The Professional” (1994), “La femme Nikita” (1990) and the most recent “Lucy” (2014) took the mission of building what will be one of Europe’s largest movie studio complexes just outside Paris.

“I’ve filmed here often over the years,” said Besson, “We found a number of images here, images of destruction.” Now his plans are to build something new at the site of a former power plant in Saint-Denis, outside Paris — the cité du cinéma.

Besson’s dream is to build France’s largest film studio complex, covering an area of around 60,000 square meters. The complex will include nine sound stages, a film school, a movie theater with 450 seats and a cafeteria with capacity for 1,000 people. A group of investors, including a bank, a construction and real estate company and Besson himself, are providing the €160 million ($216 million) needed for the project.

“The imagination is a muscle you have to exercise constantly, around the clock,” he says. “Only then are you able to create worlds out of nothing.”

Mylene Farmer on set of Que mon cœur lâche

Few other filmmakers have created so many worlds over the years. Besson has directed 13 movies, including the diving epic “The Big Blue” (1988) and the science fiction adventure “The Fifth Element” (1997). Besson has also written or co-written around 40 screenplays and produced nearly 100 films. His latest directorial project, a comic series adaptation called “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec”.

Mylene Farmer on set of Que mon cœur lâche

As far as his private life, Besson has four daughters and a son, and it was partly for his children that he wrote his “Arthur” children’s book series, selling 3 million copies of the books and adapting them to film.

Besson says he approaches filmmaking like a chef. “I go to the market, buy ingredients, smell the fish, stand over the stove,” he says. “Then a guest comes and says, ‘I don’t like fish.’ And I was up at the crack of dawn to find the best fish! But never mind, he’s the guest. Cook something he likes.”

Luc Besson was born on March 18, 1959 and spent his childhood with his parents, scuba diving instructors at Club Mediterranean, between Greece and the former Yugoslavia. 

When the young Besson went diving one day despite having a cold, he went briefly blind as he returned to the surface. It was after this accident that he learned to trust his inner eye and also never again consider marine biology as his profession.

“I started writing stories when I was 13,” Besson explains. “I’d written 25 screenplays by the time I was 20, some of which I later filmed.” Writing was an escape, he says, and a healthier one than some other things, like alcohol or drugs, might have been: “I escaped into my head.” Perhaps all these means of escape — diving and drinking, shooting up and shooting films — serve the same purpose: They give you a rush.

“I had very few friends as a child,” the filmmaker continues. “I traveled from country to country with my parents and I didn’t have anything to play with. There were rocks, a piece of wood, and I had to construct my worlds out of those things. That’s how my imagination developed. If I’d been born into a rich family, I never would have made it this far.” The life story Besson tells is one of the child pariah no one wanted to play with, forcing him to create all the best toys himself.

He’s sunk his teeth into this project of Cité du Cinéma, Besson admitted, and he won’t let go until everyone — the politicians, the authorities, the banks — see he’s serious about his dream of making this the “creative center” of the French film industry.

His vision is to create an egalitarian movie factory, one as different from France’s filmmakers as it is from the big studios in the United States. Besson sees himself not as the manufacturer, but rather as the foreman — showing everyone else how to make assembly line movies, movies that audiences will like.

Luc began in the cinema by multiplying the positions of assistant director in France and the United States, before directing his first feature film, a science fiction film co-written with Pierre Jolivet which evokes the survival of human beings. in a post-apocalyptic world. The Last Combat, shot in CinemaScope and in black and white, (is very strongly inspired by La Jetté by Chris Marker in 1962) earned him distinction at the Avoriaz Festival in 1983 and allowed him to sign a contract with Gaumont to produce Subway two years later, interpreted in particular by Isabelle Adjani and Christophe Lambert. Rewarded by 3 Césars, this film imposes its visual signature and shows a graphically sophisticated universe, very close to comics and music videos that some identify as the Cinema of looks. On the strength of this success, he undertook the production of a work close to his heart: Le Grand Bleu.

Poorly received at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, it became a social phenomenon with 10 million admissions and becoming the subject of numerous analyzes that attempted to explain its success with the public and more particularly with young people. His style, close to advertising aesthetics, creates a gap between the director and the world of criticism. 

He was sometimes nicknamed “Bubbles Caisson” (counterparty of his name and hinting on the “Caisson’s disease” which if found in divers due to release of nitrogen gas bubbles that impinge the blood vessels under the water). The film became a social phenomenon with 10 million admissions and becoming the subject of numerous analyzes that attempted to explain its success with the public and more particularly with young people. His style, close to advertising aesthetics, creates a gap between the director and the world of criticism. 

Serge Gainsbourg – Mon légionnaire (Clip Officiel réalisé by Luc Besson)

Although the critics exhausted Besson, the public was there for his following films: Nikita in 1990 and Léon in 1994, which renewed the mainstream genre of the killer film. These two productions also definitively established his popularity in France and brought him international fame. Atlantis, in 1991, on the other hand, obtained less success. In 1997, he embarked with the Gaumont group on an ambitious science fiction project: The Fifth Element. He then moved to Los Angeles with his wife, actress Maïwenn Le Besco.

Explicitly targeting the American market, it features Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich and Maïwenn Le Besco (as a diva) at the top of the bill in a story with the traditional canvas of the end of the world narrowly avoided, treated in a mixture of humor, irony and great spectacle. The sets and then the appearance of the creatures in the film were designed by Mœbius and Jean-Claude Mézières, then the costumes were designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. This blockbuster became one of the biggest commercial successes of a French film in the United States (since beaten by Taken by Pierre Morel). 

There is an amusing connection between Luc Besson’s film “La femme Nikita” and Elton John. Remember a song Elton released in the 1985 called “Nikita”? Well, perhaps it inspired Luc to write the movie? (especially considering the fact that Nikita is always a male name in Russian)

Crowning this triumph, Besson received the César for best director in 1998. In 1999, his version of Joan of Arc, performed by his new companion and wife Milla Jovovitch, attracted 3 million cinema viewers. The following year, he was entrusted with the presidency of the jury at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival. The 2000s were essentially marked by his activities as a producer. He only returned to directing in 2005 with Angel-A, then the year of afterwards with his very first animated film adapted from his children’s book: Arthur and the Minimoys, which benefits from a colossal budget for its promotion and for the launch of several derivative products. The film has a sequel three years later: Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard. In 2010, Besson adapted Jacques Tardi’s comic book series, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, with Louise Bourgoin in the title role.
In 2009, he signed a column in the newspaper Le Monde in which he supported the “Creation and Internet” bill2.

In the summer of 2010, he began secretly shooting his film The Lady in Thailand3. The film is a biopic about Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest by the Burmese government at the time. It is the Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh who holds the main role of the film, scheduled for October 2011.

Madonna – Love Profusion by Luc Besson

Apart from his work for the cinema, he also produces video clips for many stars including Madonna or Serge Gainsbourg .

Mylène Farmer talks about Luc Besson

Invitation to the Arctic in 1991 “For the shooting of his film Atlantis , he offered to make one of my dreams come true: to discover the Arctic and its ice floe. The mirage of white paradise! It was unforgettable in terms of beauty and silence. ” ( “Télé 7 Jours” – December 07, 2009 )     * 

Clip Que mon cœur lâche in 1992 “A little bit difficult, but I know Luc Besson well. We met… he invited us to the Arctic for a very nice trip. So we knew him well. And then, he’s a very good director. So it was both difficult and easy.(…) It’s true that we have quite different universes. And, Luc, I believe, was able to bring us a lightness and, perhaps, a de-dramatization in relation to the theme of the song ( “Stars 90” – TF1 – January 11, 1993 )

“Laurent was taken by the preparation of our film and it seemed interesting to us to give carte blanche to a talented director. I like everything about Luc Besson and particularly “Le Grand Bleu”. What I especially liked about his screenplay was his humor. I was delighted that he played down the subject in this way. of the song.”  (Mylène Farmer – “Télé 7 Jours” – N°1699)     * 

Dubbing of the films of the Arthur trilogy (2006-2010) “I have a nice gift. Luc Besson offered to do the voice of the Princess Selenia. And, I took it with very, very great pleasure. She’s red-haired, mischievous and touching. Luc may have thought of me when he created the character.” ( “Télé 7 Jours” – December 07, 2009 )

“It was a wish on my part to do a voice for a cartoon. I love animation and it was Luc who came to me and offered to do this voice for Princess Selenia and, he introduced me to Arthur’s books and the Minimoys but, above all, the decor of the Minimoys village miniatures and, I really, really fell in love with this village , and this work. (…)(What charms me in the world of Luc Besson), “essentially the world of childhood, I think that I myself am a grown-up person who has little desire to grow up… essentially childhood, that’s is what touched me in general in Luc’s films and, in particular, this cartoon.” RTL – 01 December 2006 )

“For ‘Arthur et les minimoys’, it’s a lot, a lot of work. We are often seven or eight hours in a row behind a microphone, concentrated on a screen and a scrolling tape. But , it’s also bursts of laughter, a complicity with Luc Besson and then, and then, it’s an exercise that is brand new for me and which is very interesting, I must say. I also had the chance to meet filmmakers that I adore like Abel Ferrara and… obviously I’m going to forget the others: Luc Besson, of course, a Spanish director, a Chinese director who always bring me a universe which is theirs and which ends up merging with mine. It’s fascinating. And, moreover, I hope, in the future, to return to film directors. Maybe! Hit West – 09 December 2010 )

many thanks to mylene.net, purepeople.com , premiere.fr, wikipedia.com, spiegel.de

Published by E.V. Sky

Writer. Poet. Woman. Soul

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