Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


The date was September 22, 1985, when environmental artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude completed what had been their ten-year obsession: "The Pont Neuf Wrapped." For fourteen days, 440,000 square feet of polyamide fabric, silky in appearance and golden sandstone in color, covered the legendary seventeenth-century bridge that has inspired artists, lovers, and the people of Paris. Christo in Paris chronicles the decade-long struggle it took to achieve this astounding and provocative architectural poem.

The film documents Christo's and Jeanne-Claude's lobbying efforts, their conversations with Parisians explaining the wrapping, and their candid meetings with city officials. Mayor Jacques Chirac, in particular, provides an extraordinary assessment of the citizens' and politicians' convictions (or lack thereof) about the project. But in the course of presenting this film about an artist at work, the Maysles team takes the opportunity to explore Christo's personal history, so that we can understand the significance such an unusual work of art has for the man. They track Christo's escape from Bulgaria, which brought him to Paris and his future wife, Jeanne-Claude, thereby giving us an insight into the man's intense admiration for this aristocratic daughter of French General Jacques de Guillehon and the city of culture, which will culminate in the wrapping of the celebrated bridge. Christo in Paris captures the proceedings with all their nuances, detailing a love affair between a refugee and a French general's daughter, between an artist and a city, and between a temporary work of art and the Parisians it was created for.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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