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Short of the Week: An enigmatic fantasy starring Juliet Berto

'Juliet in Paris' - Claude Miller

Juliet Berto passed away in 1990 at the relatively young age of 42 due to complications caused by breast cancer but her cinematic legacy will live on forever. Starting her career as a talented actress with a minor part on Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 gem Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Berto went on to deliver more notable iconic performances.

While Berto starred in various projects and even became a screenwriter and director later on, the most memorable performance of her career came when she worked with Jacques Rivette on the seminal fantasy film Celine and Julie Go Boating. An allegorical masterpiece, the film is one of the most celebrated works of the French New Wave.

Although Berto collaborated with Rivette on his magnum opus Out 1 as well, Celine and Julie Go Boating stands out because it’s a phenomenal exploration of female friendship. Rivette examines the structures and the various registers of reality and human memory in this dreamy cinematic journey where Berto’s screen presence feels like a breath of fresh air.

For this edition of our Short of the Week, we have chosen a lesser-known project featuring the enigmatic Juliet Berto. Titled Juliet in Paris, it’s a 1967 short by Claude Miller – the French filmmaker who collaborated with many French icons on their productions, including Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard as well as François Truffaut who mentored him.

Miller received acclaim for some of his works such as the 1992 drama The Accompanist but his early shorts are simply spectacular. Even in this short film, it is clear that Miller has a definite vision of cinema which is characterised by vibrant colours and the striking juxtaposition of contradictory realities.

The film features Berto as a young student who arrives in Paris and embarks on a strange journey where she is haunted by her desire to drink blood. Incorporating symbolism, elements of vampirism as well as sociopolitical commentary, Juliet in Paris stylises violence and blood in a strangely alluring way.

Watch the film below.