New York, I Love You Behind the Scenes

New York, I Love You Behind the Scenes


Cast: Bradley Cooper, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Irrfan Khan, Orlando Bloom, Maggie Q, Anton Yelchin, Olivia Thirlby, Drea De Matteo, John Hurt, Urgur Yucel, Chris Cooper, Andy Garcia, Natalie Portman, Emilie Ohana, Christina Ricci, Ethan Hawke, James Cann, Julie Christie, Shia LaBeouf, Taylor Geare, Carlos Acosta, Burt Young, Robin Wright Penn, Shui Qi, Cloris Leachman, Eli Wallach
Classification: MA 15+ (Strong Sexual References)
Running time: 103 minutes


Since the birth of movies, New York has long been cinema's dream city - its teeming populace ofone-of-a-kind characters, its stone-and-glass skyscrapers rocketing towards the heavens, itssubterranean cultures and its rooftop love affairs all making for the perfect backdrop to all mannerof action, comedy, drama and poetry. The city has been immortalised on screen in hundreds ofdifferent ways in thousands of movies. But now comes a fresh, diverse and unabashedlyromantic window into the city, this time seen entirely through the eyes of love -- love in all itsvarieties, from first love, tough love and momentary love to love remembered, love denied, loveyearned for and love that lasts forever - from a collaboration of young, impassioned filmmakersfrom around the world.

Directed by an eclectic group of some of today's most imaginative filmmakers that includes JiangWen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kapur, NataliePortman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston and Randy Balsmeyer, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOUinvites the audience into the intimate lives of New Yorkers as they grapple with, delight in andsearch for love.

In the Diamond District, an intercultural romantic fantasy transforms the purchase of a preciousstone. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, a desperate artist pursues a reluctant muse. Within an UpperEast Side hotel, a sophisticated guest and a mysterious bellboy journey outside of time. After anunexpected night in Central Park, a young man's prom date has a surprising revelation.

Traveling towards the Village, two lovers speed by taxi, subway and foot to meet for the first timeafter what they thought was a one-night stand. In Tribeca, a pickpocket finds the tables turnedwhen he follows an alluring girl. And in Brooklyn, a moment of Coney Island bliss envelops anoctogenarian couple. These stories and more are all woven together to form a colorful, lyricalcollage not only of the city - but of the deep yearning for love and human connections thatsustain everyone within it.

Bringing to life the film's host of unforgettable New York characters is an all-star cast thatincludes Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Andy Garcia, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson,Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan, Emilie Ohana, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q,Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Olivia Thirlby, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo,Julie Christie, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf, Ugur Yucel, Taylor Geare, Carlos Acosta, JacindaBarrett, Shu Qi, Burt Young, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright Penn, Eva Amurri, Eli Wallach andCloris Leachman.

Following on the heels of the acclaimed PARIS JE T'AIME, the project is the second episode ofthe "Cities of Love" series of collective feature films conceived by Emmanuel Benbihy, whoproduced this film with Marina Grasic (CRASH).


"You know what I always like about New York . . . these little moments on the sidewalk,smoking and thinking about your life... you can watch the buildings, feel the air, look atthe people and sometimes you meet someone you feel like you can talk to."-- Yvan Attal Segment, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU

In the city that never sleeps, no one ever stops dreaming of love. These dreams come to life inNEW YORK, I LOVE YOU - a collaboration of storytelling from some of today's most excitinginternational screen artists and a global, all-star cast, who together create a kaleidoscopic view ofthe spontaneous, surprising, electrifying human connections that drive the city's heartbeat. Sexy,funny, haunting and revealing encounters erupt across the Manhattan landscape -- from Tribecato Central Park to Harlem - forging an interconnected love story as diverse and unifying as thevery fabric of New York.

Following on the heels of its critically acclaimed predecessor, PARIS JE T'AIME, NEW YORK, ILOVE YOU, is the second in a series of films that producer Emmanuel Benbihy calls CITIES OFLOVE, which will take audiences on far-reaching journeys through the world's most beloved andculturally influential cities via the sheer power of indelible, heartfelt emotions. The next cities indevelopment are Rio and Shanghai for 2010, Jerusalem and Mumbai in 2011. If grand cities area society's receptacle of untold stories, Benbihy has set out, like a butterfly collector, to amassthose beautiful, momentary tales that are filled with desire, connection and hope - and thusexplore the things that bring us all, no matter our background, nationality or view of life, closertogether.

"My idea was always to make a collection of movies that would illustrate the universal idea oflove around the world," says Benbihy. "I started with Paris because that is where I am from, but Ialways intended to do something similar for all the mythic cities, of which New York of course hadto be a part. New York is a city that has the potential to make anybody who sees it start todream. I first came to New York when I was 7 years-old in the 1970s and I have ever since hadmy own personal love affair with the city."

With NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU Benbihy takes his concept of the multi-director movie not onlyinto Manhattan's iconic neighborhoods, from the Upper West Side to Soho, but also a stepfurther, across new boundaries - and into what he dubs "collective filmmaking." While the filmfeatures stories from different filmmakers of wholly different backgrounds and creative visions, thequest was to weave them all into a singular, intertwined narrative that serves as an ode to primalhuman connectedness - not only in substance but in form.

"This movie is absolutely not an anthology," Benbihy unequivocally states. "The ambition of thisformat is not to string a bunch of shorts together, but rather, to make a singular feature filmexperience that just happens to be created by many different directors. We wanted thecharacters not just to live inside their own stories but to bump into each other, cross paths andform a community, so that from that diversity comes a sense of unity. It is similar to other filmsmade by a single director - CRASH, MAGNOLIA, BABEL, SHORT CUTS, films with storytellingthat audiences have reacted very strongly to - but the difference is that we have many directors."Benbihy notes that he and all the artists who have participated in his films are still in the verybeginning stages of exploring the full potential of what the exciting future of collective filmmakingmight look like. "It remains an ambitious concept for which there is no real precedent and onethat is still full of hurdles and challenges," the producer admits, "but it's something that was veryexciting to the filmmakers we approached and is becoming a reality."

Early on, the idea certainly captured the imagination of producer Marina Grasic, who has longbeen a force in the independent film world and was an executive producer on the AcademyAward® winning CRASH, perhaps the most acclaimed of the multi-narrative, intertwined films thatBenbihy was so intrigued by structurally. When the two met at the Cannes Film Festival, apartnership was quickly forged.

"When I met Emmanuel, I was really excited to hear that he was planning to do a New Yorkmovie just like PARIS JE T'AIME," recalls Grasic. "In turn, I think he was interested in mebecause I have been involved in movies that are on the cutting edge in structure and format. Itwas a serendipitous meeting."

But after trying to jumpstart the project from Los Angeles, it was strongly recommended toBenbihy that he up the intensity of his approach - New York style. "Anthony Minghella called meand said 'I am in New York, where are you?' If you want to make a movie in New York, youshould be here; and if you want to work with me, we should meet." So he picked up his roots andmoved to New York the next day to be in the very midst of the subject at hand, which was all theinspiration he needed to put things into rapid-fire motion. "I owe a lot to Anthony" Benbihy admits.

He also began searching for just the right chemical mix of up-and-coming filmmakers. "I didn'twant to go to the usual New York suspects, to Spike Lee or Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese,because we all already know their way of seeing New York so intimately. Instead, I searched fordirectors who would view the city in ways yet to be seen," he explains.

"I consciously went to younger, newer directors from all around the world, directors who are edgyin their approach, who are pushing cinematic borders, who might be able to see New York not asit used to be but as it really is today, right now. In some cases, this film was the director's firsttaste of filmmaking in New York. For others it was a chance to revisit the city from a differentperspective. The final group is full of diversity, a collection of men and women with very differentstyles and very different visions of relationships, yet what they each share is an original eye fromwhich to view love, life and New York."

Benbihy was gratified that the filmmakers he approached responded with passionate enthusiasm.He says: "I think they were drawn by the freedom, rare now in the movie-making world, to trysomething new at many different levels - to work with actors they've always dreamed of workingwith, to be involved with a production that was completely open to their personal desires andfantasies and, most of all, to give audiences experiences they might not have had before."


To kick-start the intensively creative, not to mention intensely fast-moving, process of makingNEW YORK, I LOVE YOU, each one of the film's 11 directors was initially provided with a set ofsimple but inviolable mandates for their screenplays, including:
_ Each story had to be visually identified with one or more New York neighborhoods;
_ Each story had to involve some kind of love encounter, broadly defined;
_ There would be no fades to black at end or beginning of any segment.

Soon Benbihy found himself in development on eleven amazingly intricate stories simultaneously.Though each narrative was only about 8 minutes long, they were full of epiphanies and epic ideasthat merited long conversations and debates with their impassioned creators.

Once the screenplays were finalized, came another set of shooting rules:

_ Each director, along with his chosen DP and cast, would shoot for 2 days and 2 daysonly.

_ Then, that director would head to the editing facility with his or her chosen editor for 7days, while a new director and cast would start shooting.

_ The production designer, costume designer and all below-the-line crew remainedconsistent throughout the entirety of the exhausting, albeit exhilarating, 8 week shoot.

"We shot continuously from day one, without a break, revolving straight through the directors,"explains Benbihy. "The organization required for doing this was extremely challenging and veryspecific. There just doesn't exist a structure in filmmaking for making a movie with more than 2directors, so it has its own unique process. This meant that there had to be really goodcommunication between everyone on this new production format."

At the same time, the approach was always to be open to creative accidents and the fruits ofcollaboration. Comments Grasic: "We were very fortunate in that we were working out of abuilding in the West Village where we were able to have the production office on one floor and anediting room on another. So we had one director getting ready to shoot while another was editing,which made for a really inspirational and creative environment. We had all these artists kind oflooking in on each other and interacting in a way that only further added to the cohesiveness andcommunity we wanted on this film. It felt almost like a film workshop."

At one point, for example, the German-Turkish director Fatih Akin was working next door to hislong-time American favorite, Allen Hughes. "It was really exciting, even just to go ask to borrowsome cream for the coffee," laughs Akin.

Meanwhile, the team was also shooting the transition sequences that tie together the individualstories of the film - via the story of a New York videographer moving around from neighborhoodto neighborhood (played by the French American actress Emilie Ohana, VATEL) -- into a singularexperience. These were directed by Randy Balsmeyer, best known for his collaborations with thelikes of Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, David Cronenberg and Robert Altman in creatingunforgettable title sequences.

"The transitions became an interesting way to engage the audience and to challenge them withnew information about the characters they've met as well as introducing a group of what wecalled 'community characters,'" explains Benbihy. "One of the wonderful ideas that RandyBalsmeyer brought to us was that of using a videographer - an artist whose work unifies thepeople all around her - to unify our stories."

Production on the wild and wooly streets of New York is always an exhilarating challenge but withNEW YORK, I LOVE YOU that challenge was intensified by several magnitudes, as the directorscollectively traversed every inch of the city - shooting outdoors, indoors, on street corners, in barsand apartments -- coming into contact with every conceivable obstacle and situation, while tryingto complete their films in the allotted 48 hours.

Thankfully, throughout, New York City itself stood behind the project. Notes Grasic: "There was areal appreciation that this movie is a love letter to the city and the City infrastructure was verygenerous in its support. That meant a lot to us because this production was nothing if notlogistically challenging. Just the transportation alone was mind-boggling! We had directors andcast flying in and out of the country constantly, and there were immigration challenges and hotelchallenges and the amazing thing is, that daunting as it was, everything turned out as well as wecould possibly have hoped for. New York was completely welcoming and, of course, alwaysinspirational."

As carefully strategized as the epic production was, Benbihy and Grasic knew that with so manycreative balls flying through the air at once, they would have to flow with the unpredictable natureof the enterprise.

Summarizes Benbihy: "When you're making a movie such as this, things are constantly evolvingand shifting and the key is to always be ready for the opportunity to open the door into somethingelse. In the end, the final film is a balance of so many elements: merging the fun and the upbeatwith the edgy and poetic. It's a journey into New York different from what audiences are used to,but filled with the excitement of love and lots of fresh air."