Paris – March 21, 2016 – Jerry Lewis, who turned 90 earlier this March, will have more to celebrate when he will be treated to an early private screening of a new biographical documentary he participated in last year entitled, “Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown.”
Despite decades of being dismissed by American critics and the cultural elite, Lewis still remains one of the most iconic and incomparable comic performers and filmmakers of our time. Though perhaps best known for his visual gags, outstanding pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor, Lewis surpassed expectations and broke boundaries when he emerged as a “total filmmaker” – writing, producing, staging, directing and starring in his own films, which resulted in such adored classics as “The Bellboy,” “The Ladies Man,” and “The Nutty Professor.”
While Americans viewed Lewis as nothing more than just a clown, others like the French however recognized him as a true “auteur,” including the film’s French director Gregory Monro (pictured above with Lewis) who tackles questions that have perplexed pop culture for over 50 years: Why do Europeans love Jerry Lewis? What is this inexpliquable aversion Americans have towards him? Is he really a visionary genius? Who is the man behind the clown?
“There haven’t been many documentaries made about Jerry, especiallly from a European perspective,” says Monro. “The main idea for me though was not to flood the screen with a line-up of American celebrities who laud and praise him. I wanted this film to take a step back, really try to be more analytical and understand what made Jerry so misunderstood in his own country, and yet so brilliant.”
Filmed in his Las Vegas home in April of last year, Lewis interviewed with Monro and candidly reflected back on his remarkable life and decades-long career, from his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin, to his incredible rise to Beatles-like fame, to his great love affair with filmmaking, which is a central focus in this new biographical approach.
The film includes never-before-interviewed personalities and experts, including actor and comedian Sean Hayes (who portrayed Lewis in the 2006 tele-film “Martin & Lewis”), close French friend Pierre Etaix, famed Jerry-impersonator Tony Lewis, reputable film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, film historian Ted Okuda (author of “The Jerry Lewis Films”), and director Martin Scorsese (who worked with Jerry on the 1982 film “The King of Comedy”).
“Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown” is a French-Australian production, co-produced by French Connection Films, Arte France, INA (French National Archives), Lowlands Media and Inkwell Films, and in association with The French Film Board (CNC), Cine +, Avrotros, SNRT Morocco, Procirep & ANGOA.
The film will have its premiere broadcast next month in the Netherlands on network channel Avrotros, followed by its French broadcast on Arte this coming Fall.
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