September, 29

Winded by the Corrections Dept.

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A yardstick of celluloid cool.Shame on New York Times scribe Elaine Dutka for mixing up her Nouvelle Vague auteurs. In an article about licensing film clips for documentaries (read about my own travails in this arena here), Dutka reported that an upcoming IFC documentary received a license to use a clip from seminal French New Wave flick Breathless for a pittance after producers made it known that it would otherwise resort to “fair use.”

One copyright holder, James Velaise, the president of Pretty Pictures, ultimately agreed to license a clip from François Truffaut’s “Breathless” for $1,000, a fraction of his usual asking price.

Truffaut’s Breathless? Quoi? Sure, the dude share’s story credit with Jean Luc-Godard, but going by the auteur theory of which both directors were fierce proponents, the film is clearly Godard’s. Always has been. The only thing Dutka could have done to be more ridiculous is to credit the film to Jim McBride who proffered a flaccid Americanized remake starring Richard Gere in 1983 by the same title (which itself is a bit of a misnomer seeing as the French release is titled Un Bout de Souffle — an idiomatic expression that roughly translates to “holding one’s breath,” “out of breath,” “breathless”).

Despite my protestations, the Times has yet to print a correction. I won’t hold my breath.

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