Explore New York City in A Thousand and One—Plus Experience These Additional Four Cinematic Cities on Screen
From Manhattan to Marseilles, these movies take you inside the world’s great metropolises
In A.V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One (now playing in theaters), Inez (Teyana Taylor) kidnaps her son, Terry, from the foster care system, raising him in Harlem. As he grows into a young man, New York, especially Harlem, changes drastically in response to altering political and economic systems. “In 1994, it was still a vibrant city with vitality, unique character, and architecture that nodded to its history,” notes Rockwell in the production notes. “As the story progresses, and the city cleans up its look, a lot of the grittiness is lost but also the vibrance—the city’s identity is redefined altogether.”
The two stories—the changing economic landscape of New York City and Inez’s struggle to maintain a home—intertwine in poignant and powerful ways. The Chicago Reader writes, “A.V. Rockwell’s lens captures the beauty and vibrancy of the city of New York, Black life, and motherhood in poverty, making space for expressions of parental love that show up in imperfect ways.”
Rockwell’s unique look at New York City recalls how many great filmmakers have cast celebrated cities as essential characters in their stories. From Marseille to London and Belfast to Paris, we invite you to also visit these dramatic destinations on the screen.
Belfast | Belfast
Writer-director Kenneth Branagh won an Original Screenplay Academy Award® for bringing to life his childhood and the city that sparked his imagination in Belfast. At the story’s center is the 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), whose carefree life of going to the movies and hanging out with grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds) is brought to a crashing stop. When political violence erupts on their block, his parents (Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan) must decide whether to leave their home and endure the rising conflict in Belfast. “In the late 1960s, it went through an incredibly tumultuous period of its history, very dramatic, sometimes violent, that my family and I were caught up in,” remembers Branagh in the production notes. “It’s taken me 50 years to find the right way to write about it.” Branagh wove all of these different elements together in a deeply moving portrait of a family and city. “Visually stunning, emotionally wrenching, and gloriously human, Belfast takes one short period from Branagh’s life and finds in it a coming-of-age story, a portrait of a city fracturing in an instant, and a profoundly moving lament for what’s been lost during decades of strife in his homeland of Northern Ireland,” writes The Wrap.
Last Night in Soho | London
Edgar Wright was inspired to create Last Night in Soho by strolling through the streets of the city he calls home. “I’ve had more night-time walks through Soho than I can possibly count, and you get thinking about what this or that building used to be. You feel the echoes of the past,” Wright recounts in the production notes. Mixing his personal knowledge with the history of Soho in British film, Wright creates a dizzyingly entertaining time-travel story that captures both the area’s alluring legend and its brutal reality. His co-screenwriter, Krysty Wilson-Cairns, explains in the production notes, “Last Night in Soho is a love letter to that specific part of London, and to a bygone age when the Rolling Stones and Princess Margaret were hanging around.” This personal and passionate trip to Soho, The Wrap writes, “will stand as one of the best London movies of the new decade.”
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris | Paris
For Anthony Fabian, the director of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, telling the story of a 1950s London charwoman (Lesley Manville) who earns enough money to travel to Paris to acquire an original Dior gown made him feel right at home. He tells Casting Net that “my father moved to Paris when I was 7, and the city became a second home for me.” While he captures the city of his childhood in his authentic reconstruction of the House of Dior and his postcard-perfect takes of French streets, he also alludes to the mythical place of daydreams and technicolor musicals. While, as the Hollywood Reporter writes, “the movie is a love letter to the French capital and its halls of fashion,” it also “evokes the city’s magnificent cinematic past, notably so in a walk along the Seine dappled in bewitching evening light.”
Stillwater | Marseille
Academy Award®-winning director Tom McCarthy’s thriller Stillwater is a tale of two cities: one being the title place, an Oklahoma town from which the roughneck Bill Baker (Matt Damon) comes; the other being Marseilles, the French Mediterranean city where Baker spends most of the film, trying to find a way to save his daughter (Abigail Breslin), who is in prison accused of murder. Having fallen in love with the French city, McCarthy wanted to honor its cultural complexity and legendary heritage. In addition to working with French screenwriters, McCarthy experienced the town firsthand. In an exclusive Focus Features interview, production designer Philip Messina recalls, “Tom and I would often walk the streets—both day and night—just to get lost and see what we could find.” McCarthy’s attention to detail brings to the screen “the daily rhythms of Marseille—the back alleys, grubby kebab shops, and sudden dazzling flashes of sun-dappled Gallic scenery,” according to Entertainment Weekly. In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle writes, “Audiences will come away feeling like they’ve really been somewhere, that they were moved by the people they met and expanded by the experience.”