Matter of Fact Media
Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star
Directed by Larry Weinstein
Tuesday June 28 | 6:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. W)
This Premiere Screening is part of TIFF’s showcase on Director Larry Weinstein this summer
A movie icon recalls a whirlwind life in and out of Hollywood in Larry Weinstein’s latest film, Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star. The film will make its world premiere June 28 at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, screening as part of a showcase on the acclaimed director’s long career in documentary.
Leslie Caron’s life was a Gallic Cinderella tale, Hollywood style – plucked from a Paris ballet stage as a teenager by Gene Kelly himself, to co-star in the Oscar-winning An American in Paris.
From there, the little French gamine – whose mother’s frustrated ambitions were embodied in her words, “I’ll be there for you when you’re a star” – became the symbol of French insouciance and glamour to a worldwide audience.
She even presaged the later vogue of “de-glamourizing,” shockingly cutting her hair in an unflattering style, and covering her cover-girl face in soot for The Glass Slipper, the musical version of the Cinderella story she embodied.
Larry Weinstein’s Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star is a disarmingly candid, in-her-own-words portrait of a woman who may be France’s least-appreciated national treasure. We meet her at the age of 83, as she prepares to bid adieu to her Paris home, and move to London permanently. We soon find her working on the TV series The Durrells, with producer Christopher Hall (her son with former husband, avant-garde stage director Sir Peter Hall).
In the process, she visits the scenes of key moments in her life, from the imprint of the Nazi occupation on her childhood to the ambitious location shoot of yet another Oscar winner and career highlight, Gigi.
Through Caron’s mind’s-eye, we get insights into the greats, from Kelly to Fred Astaire and Cary Grant (her co-stars in Daddy Long Legs and Father Gooserespectively), to the often-painful demands of the Hollywood studio system. We experience the public tornado unleashed by a two-year romance with Warren Beatty.
We also experience Caron’s deep regret that she was unable to establish herself as a big star in France, despite working with leading directors such as Louis Malle and François Truffaut.
“We were privileged to have Leslie Caron take us on a journey to a glorious time in Hollywood,” says Larry Weinstein, whose most recent feature, The Devil’s Horn,received wide acclaim. “She was one of the beloved icons of film, dance and theatre in the 20th Century, and she retains the spirit and intense emotion that made her one of that era’s most luminous personalities.”
“I had only one director in mind for the film – Larry Weinstein,” says producer Vanessa Dylyn, who met Caron at a party, and first approached her with the idea for a film. “I knew in my heart that this would be a perfect pairing of subject and filmmaker. And as I suspected, Larry fell in love with her and she with him.”
Two of Weinstein’s previous films will also screen this summer as part of TIFF’s Canadian Open Vault programme: Mozartballs, preceded by Making Overtures: The Story of a Community Orchestra on July 5, and The Music of Kurt Weill: September Songs on August 20. Both screenings will be free to the public, and include an introduction by the director.
Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star is directed by Larry Weinstein, produced by Vanessa Dylyn and Anne Schuchman, and edited by David New. It is a Canada/France Treaty Co-production produced with funding from ARTE France, TVO, the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Completion Fund, Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Knowledge Network, and Avrotros. Produced by Matter of Fact Media and Schuch Productions.
About Matter of Fact Media Inc.
Matter of Fact Media Inc. is an award-winning Toronto based production company specializing in high-concept documentaries and factual programming. The company’s new films include Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star – an arts documentary on the career of Leslie Caron, star of An American in Paris, for ARTE and TVO; Into the Inferno, a Werner Herzog documentary about man’s relationship with volcanoes, in production for Netflix; and The Divided Brain, with Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary, for Super Channel. Upcoming films include Undercover Jihadi, the true story of a reformed Jihadi whose testimony sent eleven Jihadists to prison, for TVO. In development is the forensic mystery, Did Marco Polo Reach America? as well as a dramatic mini-series,Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, produced by Muse Entertainment. Past credits include The Woman Who Joined the Taliban, for the CBC, The Musical Brain, featuring Sting, for CTV and National Geographic, and The Mystery of San Nicandro, for CBC’s Documentary channel.