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Culture

Woody Allen Urges American-French Rapprochement

The American director and funny man Woody Allen has got a new gig: working as a pitch man for the French Tourist Board telling Americans it's time to revive their french love affair

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Woody Allen hopes to revive the American love affair with France.

The accomplished actor and director Allen is appealing to fellow Americans to stop bickering with the French and go on holiday there instead.

Appearing in a new promotional video for the official French tourist board, the director of classics like "Annie Hall" and "Everything you Wanted to ask About Sex (but were afraid to ask)" encourages Americans to visit the European nation and says it is time to put their differences over the recent Iraq war behind them and work at repairing their long-standing friendship.

Let's fall in love again

"Recently there has been a lot of controversy between the two countries and I hope that now the two countries can put all that behind them and start to build on what has really been a great, great friendship," the 67-year-old says in the promotional film entitled "Let's Fall in Love Again."

The video, featuring Americans from all walks of life gushing about their love of France, also includes a New York fire fighter talking about a trip to France given in recognition of his team's efforts after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

During the first three months of 2003 numbers of American tourists visiting the land famous for its, wine, cheese and staunch anti-war stance on Iraq, fell by 15 percent compared with the same period the previous year. Now, the French Government Tourist Office is hoping that the film -- currently being played to travel journalists across the States -- will get Americans considering France as a friendly holiday option again.

"Every year we do a media campaign...and this year we're trying to get the message to Americans that they're welcome in France and this 'lover's spat', as we're calling it, can be over, " Louise O'Brien, a spokesperson for the French Government Tourist Board in New York told Deutsche Welle.

A long-standing friendship

The film follows hot on the heels of a letter published late last month on the board's website emphasizing that there is no bad feeling (in the travel industry at least) on the French side towards America.

"I would first like to emphasize that Americans have always been and will always be welcome in France," the letter, from the director of the board's U.S. operations Patrick Goyet, states. It goes on to remind readers that the friendship between the French and the Americans dates back to the role played by the French statesman, the Marquis of Lafayette in the American Revolutionary war and also points out that the Stature of Liberty was given to the United States by the French in 1886 as a symbol of friendship.

Freiheitsstatue in New York

A small gift from the French.

And if that doesn't convince Yankees to get on a plane to Paris or the Cote D'Azur, the letter also mentions the extensive anti-terror program deployed by the French government.

But Allen, whose films are immensely popular in France and who has worked with the French tourist board before, seems to be less concerned with anti-terror laws than other more pressing needs.

Before stating that the two nations should "pull together" and revive their love affair, he says that he doesn't want "to refer to my French fried potatoes as Freedom Fries any more," referring to the name some anti-French Americans have taken to calling their food.

"And I don't want to have to freedom kiss my wife when all I want to do is French kiss her," says Allen in the film.

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