With a bright and warm smile, Elina Lowenshon, american actress from Romania, welcomes me into her home. In a few days, she’ll be in Corse, France, to shoot the belgian movie : Laissez bronzer les cadavres - Let the dead bodies tan - by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. She actually looks very tanned, when you think of this month’s weather. She explains, laughing, that she had to go to the solarium for the movie.
Meeting Elina is already a trip around the world and a meeting with happiness. Romania first, where she was born, the United States, then, where she started acting in theaters and movies, for instance with Hal Hartley (Simple Men, 1992, Amateur, 1994), or Travis Preston. Then Paris, the City of Light, in which she spreads her horizons.
Elina loves Paris and Paris loves Elina. She remembers that it wasn’t always so, and she has bad memories from when she first arrived in 1994 : « I had never felt like a stranger before, even when I arrived in New York at 14. In Paris, there’s a certain set of rules, it took some time for me to realize pharmacies and bakeries are almost holy places… Everything said there is analyzed. I’m laughing about it today, but at the time, it was very though for me to have the women at the counter point out all of my mistakes, like when I said “un” baguette instead of “une”; or when the pharmacist judged me for what I was wearing ».
Elina came to Paris for love, she was married to the painter Philippe Richard for a long time. Discovering Paris allowed her to know more about contempory art. That’s where she learned to develop her critical mind. Because Elina knows a lot of artists personally. It was also an opportunity to share, and all of those experiences helped her when it comes to what she loves best: cinema.
Elina can’t even imagine leaving Paris. The building where she lives is an old hotel that was built during the Universal Exposition in 1900 to greet a ballet. Every room in her flat features quirky objects and decorations ideas that are out of the ordinary, like the many small mirrors in her bathroom, which side by side form a bigger one. A large bay window gives a great view of the nearby roofs, and I take some time to look at the clouds from there. There’s a turntable and an ever-growing collection of records. Elina offers to play Glass Candy, a american electronic duo, that I like to discover. She says she loves the melodies because they make her want to dance. Then she adds : « I’m at home in Paris now. I feel good her, I tamed the city. I know how to speak the language. I like this town, there are so many interesting places here, where people try new ways to work together ». She likes to wander around Ground Control in the 18th neighborhood. There are train tracks there, and it reminds of travelling, of going away, even in the middle of Paris. One other place she likes to visit: La Recyclerie in the same neighborhood. In the old train station, people explore a new way of consuming, base on the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
It’s been an hour and I drank all of my green tea. I go with Elina to La Couleuvre, a galery in Saint Ouen where there’s an exhibition opening tonight. Elina is a member of the association, she signed up to manage the bar and the new members. She smiles as she greets the people coming to see the exhibit Double Insu, that features work by the Swiss artists Delphine Reist and Laurent Faulon.
After seeing the place and the work showed, I leave almost like a thief in the night. I won’t forget Elina’s generosity or availability. I can’t wait to see her on the big screen!
Happy Bonus : 3 songs thak make Elina want to move
Translation : Lorraine Besse
Special thanks to Bertrand Mandico for the polaroid pictures.
Yalta Club : "Paris est un bouillonnement permanent"