West of the Jordan River/Amos Gitai

Amos Gitai continues his nuanced exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by traveling to the occupied territories, where he interviews Palestinian families, Jewish settlers, politicians, and members of Israeli human-rights organizations. His goal is to show that the conflict is complex, rather than monolithic; that both sides are responsible for creating the conflict as well as resolving the peace; and that sitting by while Israel destroys itself is tantamount to silently watching neighbors beat each other to death. Availability: Opens New York City, January 27, Quad Cinema. A Kino Lorber release. Thanks to Aimee Morris, Sophie Gluck & Associates, for arranging this interview.

 

DT: A woman from the Meretz Party mentioned that politicians are obliterating the word occupation from public discourse in Israel. Do you think the politicians are successful in their campaign? And if they are, what does that mean for Israel?

AG: Unfortunately, I think Netanyahu is very successful. If he continues, he will destroy the fabric of the society.

DT: The same thing is happening here in America with climate change—the Trump administration is wiping mention of it off government websites, publications, etc. In fact, there are a lot of parallels between the US and Israel right now.

AG: Of course these two regimes are best friends, based on security and ignorance. I would say that Netanyahu is a bit more crafted and sophisticated than the guy you have, but the situation with Israel is much more fragile. It’s a small country in a hostile environment, so if it continues on the road Netanyahu is proposing by applying manipulation and force, it may overplay itself. I’m more concerned about what will happen to Israel than the US.

The government in Israel has been pretty consistent in attacking the arts and culture and education and judicial system. They’ve been more successful than Trump, if you want to go on with the comparison, because now you cannot teach a text of Mahmoud Darwish in schools anymore; the minister of education forbids anyone to teach Darwish. You are not obliged to like Darwish, but you have to know what Palestinians think. The minister of culture wants to close the only Arab theater in Haifa, my hometown. The minister of justice wants to change the parameters of the judicial system. At the moment Arabic and Hebrew have equal status. They want to make Arabic inferior to Hebrew, and I think that will have a major negative impact on Israeli society: an increase of religious orthodoxy.

 

DT: West of the Jordan River is subtitled Field Diary Revisited, referring to your previous film Field Diary, but for me this film felt very different from Field Diary and House. Do you agree? If so, what is the difference on the ground between then and now, and what is the difference in you?

AG: I think that when I did House and Field Diary, the degree to which Israelis were conscious that there was a Palestinian problem—or vice versa—was very low. Each side hoped that if they turned their head, the other one would disappear. I think that now both are aware the other will not disappear. They may be happy or unhappy about it, but that’s the case, so I think that’s a big difference, which may be considered to be positive. The negative aspect of it is that the capacity to act politically has diminished radically, especially after the killing of Rabin. At the moment we’re talking, you can’t see a political breakthrough in sight in this situation. These are the two main changes.

DT: And what about in you?

AG: I think I have a similar point of view to what I used to have. In a way I’m surprised when I watch the earlier films that when I see myself, with less white hair but speaking about the project I wanted to do some twenty-four, twenty-five years ago, it’s not very far from what I decided to do right now, which is to juxtapose little vignettes or episodes from the ground with interviews with political figures. I proposed it twenty-five years ago, and I think it’s up to date.

I think I feel the same. Also, in comparison, I consider that documentary is a bit like digging in an archaeological site. You have to be delicate. If you use bulldozers, you will destroy the site, so you have to go carefully.

 

DT: For this film you interviewed a number of human rights groups, which each had different ways of solving the problem. The one I found most interesting were the Palestinian women taking video cameras into the streets. Can you talk about them, and then your own feelings about the effectiveness of each of the groups.

AG: This film is not just a piece by a filmmaker. It’s a civil act, like what we’ve been talking about. I think that these human rights organizations—Btselem, which is the one you’re referring to, or Breaking the Silence, or the rabbis who help the Bedouins build a school, or the Israeli and Palestinian women who have lost children—they are very important to looking for a way out of this conflict. It’s the first time that Btselem allowed somebody to film the briefing of young Palestinian women on how to use video cameras. They trusted us, and we went to see them in the center of Palestinian Hebron. What I found very important, and that’s why I think these groups are really important to support, is that it also changes the status of women inside Palestinian society. It means that the women are not designated in an autocratic society just to produce children and make food for their husbands but they have an active role with the camera. So the inner dynamic of Palestinian society is changing, thanks to this group.

At the beginning, the women told me that their immediate family—sons, husbands, brothers—were very hostile to the fact that they would work with an Israeli NGO. Now that the men see what the women are doing, they support them. Some of these women told me that they come from families of 17,000 people. So it’s big, it’s a tribe. For me, every act that enhances the idea that the situation is complex is peaceful. Every step that tries to oversimplify it into a binary proposition is for war. Now these women understand that Israel is not a monolithic society; that you have some nasty guys with machine guns but you also have guys who want to help you document abuses of human rights, so they have a more complex and complete vision. I think that’s very important, because all these groups will help us build the next step beyond this very dark moment right now, the next step meaning some recognition, some searching for another modus vivendi. This is very important long-term activity.

 

DT: You made the argument to a group of Palestinians that there are two kinds of people in the Middle East: people who want peace and people who don’t want peace. The people who want peace include both Palestinians and Israelis, and the people who don’t want peace also include Palestinians and Israelis. Do you think that your message got across?

AG: I don’t know. I put this question to the family of a boy who was killed recently in Hebron. I also told them something that they weren’t completely happy to hear—that in my judgment, when Rabin gave back the Palestinian cities to the Palestinians and told the army to withdraw, it was the worst campaign of suicide attacks by Palestinian ultranationalists and fundamentalists inside the civil centers of Israel. This in turn helped destabilize the Rabin government, so in this way, the coalition of people who don’t want peace was active. The Palestinian ultranationalists and the Israeli extreme right both contributed to the killing of Rabin, which was finally done by an Israeli Jew.

 

DT: I want to go to the environmental movement for a minute. Leaders of the movement today say that it failed because it was looking to politicians for a top-down solution rather than building grassroots resistance from the ground up. I was wondering if the same might be said for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

AG: Yesterday I came to one of the screenings with Todd Gitlin, a friend of mine. He was one of the heads of SDS, the anti–Vietnam War movement with Tom Hayden.  Todd’s a professor of sociology, and he wrote a very interesting book at the time of the antiwar movement, called The Whole World Is Watching. It showed that by concentrating on iconic leaders, the media broke the movement. I think this is the nature of the beast today; the media needs to pick up some characters, and so the grassroots organization is weakened.

DT: But that also applies politically: when you look for political solutions from the top, whether it’s in America or Israel, you’re almost defeating the purpose, especially when you have an administration like Netanyahu or Trump.

AG: Yes.

 

DT: The settler who wants to leave in peace with the Palestinians…how unusual is she?

AG: She is a minority, but there are some. We’re trying to organize a petition to defend the Bedouin school that you saw in the film, which some settlers want destroyed. Surprisingly, last week, a small group of settlers signed our petition to defend the school.

That’s why I’m a collector of contradictions. I think you now have to solicit everybody who will try to create another reality. That’s why, parenthetically, I don’t like the films of Michael Moore. They’re too manipulative and binary. I don’t want to be force-fed, so when I watch one of his movies, I even start to doubt ideas that normally I support, just because of the cinematic procedure. I like to see contradictions. When I interviewed Netanyahu’s vice minister, I let her make her argument, I respected the fact that she gave me an interview, and anyway I trusted the fact that she would kill herself with her own argument, so why should I be violent?

 

DT: I read a number of reviews of this film, and I’m getting the feeling that Americans don’t necessarily understand it. Are you getting the same impression?

AG: We’ll see how many people go to the Quad to see it.

DT: Does it matter if Americans understand it?

AG: Yes. I think it’s important for Americans to understand it, because I would like them—Americans, as well as the Jewish community in America—to also be active in defending these human rights organizations. Not just watching movies but being implicated. It’s like domestic violence. When your neighbors are beating each other to death, you have to take a position. If people love Israel—and I’m not objecting to their doing so—they have to help Israel save it from itself.

 

DT: There are times when people have to agree to disagree in order to reach a solution. Do you think that’s possible in this context?

AG: It’s a very polarized situation, and I think that this Israeli government is doing a lot of harm to the most fragile sectors of Israeli society with its racist discourse. I think basically they can destroy Israeli society itself, and obviously the Palestinians as well, with that kind of arrogance of power, which is enhanced by this American administration that is basically signing off on everything the Israelis want.

I think they should be careful.  Israel is a fragile country of immigrants, and the tactics of inciting one group against another just to be reelected is not promising in terms of keeping this project going. The minister of culture cannot say that the asylum seekers from Africa are a cancer in the body of the society. If somebody would say that about Jews, there would be havoc. So especially coming with the Jewish experience in the recent century, you have some ethical obligations. That’s why I think it’s very important to engage with supporting Btselem and Breaking the Silence—all these organizations that are really doing important groundwork to create understanding. The fact that they are so attacked by this government, who wants to cut their funding or forbid them from doing any activity: I think it’s suicidal.

 

DT: Is there anything you want to add?

AG: I would like to add another movie if people will let me. Even if they don’t.

 

Copyright © Director Talk 2018

Rabin, The Last Day/Amos Gitai

When Yitzhak Rabin was elected prime minister in 1992, director Amos Gitai ended ten years of self-imposed exile to return to Israel. Three years later, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish religious extremist. Rabin, The Last Day—Gitai’s exploration into the assassination—is more than just a film. It is a cry of rage and despair at the past and a wake-up call for the present. •Availability: Opens New York City, January 29, with national rollout to follow. Check local listings for a theater near you. Thanks to Aimee Morris, Sophie Gluck PR, for arranging this interview.

 

DT:  This is an extremely personal film for you. You not only returned to Israel when Rabin was elected but you also worked with Rabin to make Give Peace  a Chance. Can you talk about your personal impressions of Rabin and how they influenced Rabin, The Last Day?

AG: Beyond being a statesman, Rabin was a model of Israel that I like. He spoke simply, without all this diplomatic language we’re so used to. He was not a guy who read opinion polls in the morning to decide what he would broadcast in the afternoon. He had a certain concept of what he thought would reconcile Israel with this very difficult region. And he was determined. So he was touching. He would speak his opinion. Sometimes people would like it, sometimes not, but there was a level of integrity and simplicity, which is unfortunately not what we see now. Now it is replaced with cynicism, with a belief in media spin, so the guy in power [Benjamin Netanyahu] can say that the Holocaust was cooked in Jerusalem by the Mufti and Hitler is just a soft nice guy who copyrighted the idea, etc., etc.—endless nonsense that is being circulated on the internet. This is in such great opposition to Rabin.

 

DT:  Rabin, The Last Day is based entirely on existing documentation. Did you find that much material was censored, especially in relation to Avishai Raviv [a Shin Bet agent charged with failing to prevent Rabin’s assassination]? And where did you find material about the settler “psychologist” who declared that Rabin was schizoid and wasn’t fit to lead the nation?

AG:  This psychologist is still around, and what she says in the film is what she said in an interview.  Everything you see in the film is factual. We didn’t invent; when they say that Rabin and Peres belong to a satanic sect and should be judged like the Vichy government, like Petain, it was all really said. As far as Avishai Raviv, we got access to what is public. Not everything is public, because the secret service doesn’t want to reveal all the documents, but we put in what we could put in.

DT:  Did you have special access?

AG:  I asked Meir Shamgar, who was the Supreme Court judge and head of the Shamgar Commission, to give us access to the state archives in Jerusalem. He did, so we could use it as a source for the screenplay.

 

DT:  Let’s talk about the Shamgar Commission. Many scenes in your film reenact the commission’s proceedings. How did you go about filming the reenactment?

AG:  We had all the protocols of the commission, so we were aware of the ongoing investigation—for instance, the driver who revealed that he forgot to put the blue light on top of the car [to keep the road to the hospital clear after Rabin was shot] and that he was not informed of the shortest way to the hospital in case of an emergency; the fact that because nobody called the hospital to tell them Rabin was arriving they had to find a stretcher on the spot, so time was wasted; the fact that some of the secret service agents were not prepared and rehearsed sufficiently for the events. All of that was in the protocols that we found, and we basically did a reenactment almost as is.

 

DT:  Were you shocked by anything that you read?

AG:  I was shocked by the level of violence against Rabin, by the incitement of hallucinating rabbis and the medieval spells that they used [din rodef, or the right of self-defense, invoked against Rabin for ceding part of the land of Israel to non-Jews, or pulsa de nura, a Kabbalistic death curse], by the strong settlers lobby, and by the parliamentary right who were so thirsty for power that they performed a kind of coup d’etat.

 

DT: The opening helicopter sequence was terrifying, but the archival footage of Netanyahu standing on a balcony, presiding over a rally where they’re screaming “Death to Rabin,” was the most terrifying, especially with its implications for the present. How do you compare the current climate in Israel with the climate that led to Rabin’s assassination, and what connection do you see between the two?

AG:  The connection is simple: Some of the people who incited against Rabin are in power today.

DT:  That’s pretty straightforward.

AG:  What more can we say?

 

DT:  Your training as an architect is very much in evidence in the film, not only in the look of the sets but also in the structure of the film, which is almost “built” from different elements. Can you separate your architectural training from your filmic approach, or is it one and the same?

AG: I was supposed to follow in the footsteps of my father, who was a Bauhaus architect and a student of Kandinsky and Mies van der Rohe. Because of circumstances in Israel, I was sent to the Kippur War, but when I came back, I felt that architecture was a bit formal as an exercise, and I wanted to make films.

I spent nine years of my life studying architecture, first at the Technion in Haifa, and then for a PhD in architecture in Berkeley. I said to my professors in Berkeley—they didn’t always take it as a compliment—that architecture is a great general education because an architect has to deal with real parameters: budgets, economic restrictions, bureaucrats at city hall who will try to modify your ideas. Sometimes the people who order the project, much like a film producer, will try to interfere and impose their taste, so you have not only the aesthetic parameters but also a lot of similar survival strategies.

DT:  And what about the aesthetic parameters?

AG:  Both mediums start with a text. A filmmaker starts with a screenplay, while an architect gets a program that says, You have to build a school with twenty classrooms, meeting rooms for teachers, and a cafeteria, etc., etc., Neither has a shape, so both involve the intellectual process of translating text into form. I decided to make a film about the assassination of Rabin—that was the theme—but what form would it take?  Would I shoot it the way I always like, in sequence shots, or would I shoot it in a different way? How would I light it, where would I put the camera, how would I frame it, and so on?  There were a lot of different formal issues.

 

DT:  I reacted quite similarly to your film Kedma and to Rabin, The Last Day, especially the final shots. Although the two films are completely different in subject matter, I feel like there’s this feeling of despair, rather than the hope of the pioneers, that’s really at the heart of the State of Israel.

AG:  Yes. I would say we—I mean collectively—are anxious people. According to history, we have good reasons to be worried, to be concerned, to not be happy, to investigate on our own how things will evolve. There is a big group of people in Israel, unfortunately not in power, who are very concerned. We’re not very happy when we see a continuous erosion in the democratic structure of the state and more and more racist voices. The Minister of Education wants to ban a book [Borderlife, about a romance between an Israeli and a Palestinian]; the Ministry of Culture wants us all to sing only Oriental music, etc. etc., so I think there are good reasons for concern.

 

DT: What effect has Rabin’s assassination had on Israel?

AG:  It’s a major event. To put it simply, it’s not always the good guys who win. We’re in this phase, and it’s lasting twenty years. The current guy [Benjamin Netanyahu] has certain abilities to send one group against another—the Jews against the Arabs, the Sephardim against Ashkenazim, the ultra-Orthodox against the others—in order to stay in power, and it works. He’s been reelected. At the same time, he may destroy some of the fabric of Israeli society. Especially in a society of immigrants it’s very important to keep common sense and not send one group against another, but he’s so much into power that he probably considers this is secondary to remaining in power, secondary to spending millions of shekels to build himself a new palace or get himself a new, beautiful jet. Because why not?  If the American president has one, why shouldn’t he?  He forgets the different scale of the countries. Even in this sense he’s different from what preceded him. It’s not even a question of right or left. Rabin lived in an apartment of about a hundred and twenty square meters. Both Shamir and Begin were quite modest on an individual level, so this is a new type of pseudodemocratic monarchy. We just had the news two days ago that he was reelected unanimously as the only [Likud] candidate for the next election. If he wins the next general election, we’re living with him til 2023.

 

DT:  Rabin, The Last Day premiered in Israel on the twentieth anniversary of the assassination.  How was it received?

AG:  Some people liked it and some didn’t. It’s not supposed to be a consensual, sticky piece of kitsch legacy of Rabin. It’s supposed to bring up discussion, reflection. In this sense I would say it’s legitimate to have all types of opinions. In many cases, I touched an exposed nerve of Israeli society, so it’s completely normal that people would have different opinions. I don’t think it’s illegitimate.

 

DT:  Do you think that people understand the real Netanyahu?

AG:  I wish they’d understand faster.

 

DT:  How about American Jews?

AG:  I don’t want to generalize. I think that the problem is not so much Jews, as you say; it’s more that the establishment feels, probably because of guilt feelings from the Second World War, that they have to automatically support everything Israel does. I think that for people who really love Israel—and I hope that people will love Israel, because there are many aspects to be loved—they have to voice their opinion when they disagree. They don’t do it. The establishment automatically supports every move, and I think it’s counterproductive.

 

DT:  In terms of Rabin’s assassination, do you believe there was a conspiracy within the government to betray him?

AG:  I didn’t see proof of conspiracy in the way that you say it. It was out in the open. There were major demonstrations to destabilize the government, so it was written on the wall. I’m not even sure they needed a conspiracy. If there was one, I’m not aware of it, but I left all the components in the film so you can make up your mind.  The conspiracy theories are largely carried by the Israeli extreme right because they want us to believe that they are innocent; that the conspiracy was on the part of the secret service; that the extreme right did nothing bad. Always pure.

 

DT:  What do you want people to take away from the film?

AG:  Memory is an active agent. As Jews, if we didn’t think this way, we would not be around, because there were many reasons not to be around…destruction, assimilation. Memory is an agent that’s also active in forming the future. Sometimes when the present is blocked, you have to look to the past to have an idea for the future, so I’m trying to show an element from twenty years ago.

I especially like a particular piece of footage in the film, when Rabin speaks about Gaza. I shot it myself when I went with Rabin to Washington and Cairo. It really reveals the difference between him and what followed. Rabin said that if Israel were to withdraw from Gaza unilaterally, the worst forces would take over: Let’s not forget that he said it exactly ten years before Sharon withdraw unilaterally from Gaza. We know what happened then.

Rabin said that if Israel withdrew, 24,000 Palestinians salaries would need to be paid. That we had to make sure the Palestinians had water and electricity; he even said there had to be oxygen in the hospitals. For me, this is the big difference: If you want to make peace, you cannot do it unilaterally. It’s like any human relationship. It’s like love. It doesn’t exist unilaterally. The other should exist. And Rabin understood it. He said, If it’s a real peace, you have to take the other into consideration. Right now, not just Israel, the entire Middle East is in a terrible phase where the other doesn’t exist. It’s completely about ethnocentrism—it’s only us, our history, our gods. I’m not talking about Israel, I’m talking about everybody. The consequences:  no rights for women, minorities should be eliminated. This is the general spirit of the Middle East, which is a very problematic thing. When Rabin speaks about Gaza, you can’t believe that a head of state had this perception twenty years ago. I think it’s good to remember it.

 

Copyright © Director Talk 2016

 

Tsili/Amos Gitai

A meditative, non-narrative tale of a young woman hiding in the forest of Czernovitz, Bukovina during the final months of World War II, Amos Gitai’s Tsili is based on the deeply disturbing novel Tzili The Story of a Life by survivor Aharon Appelfeld.  Gitai reinterprets the novel’s disaffected tone by splitting the character of Tsili among three actresses; he captures the novel’s neo-naif mood in Tsili’s animal-like existence as she scrabbles for roots and berries. Appelfeld once said to Gitai, “The reality of the Holocaust surpassed any imagination. If I remained true to the facts, no one would believe me.” Gitai’s film conjures such a primal feeling of horror that it is impossible not to believe. •Availability:  New York Jewish Film Festival.  Click here for a schedule.  Thanks to David Ninh, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Anne Scher, The Jewish Museum, for arranging this interview.

DT:  In addition to directing Tsili, you also cowrote the screenplay with Marie-Jose Sanselme.  How would you describe the relationship between a film and the novel upon which it’s based?

 

AG:  It’s a Talmudic exercise of interpretation.  It’s not about illustrating.  You have a text, which is a book, and then you write a script.  Then this text has again to be reinterpreted and put into form.  That’s the beauty of this kind of cinema, not just mine, which is really about interpretation.  It’s not about execution. Most of cinema today is about execution because the producers want to know everything as precisely as possible in advance so they can make financial assessments and already estimate the income and so on.  I think this harms the procedure of interpretation, because while you know some things in advance, some of the deeper understanding comes along while you do the work.  It’s not really about improvisation, but you go layer by layer in a more profound way in order to understand the work while you do it.

 

DT:  Appelfeld wrote Tzili The Story of a Life in Hebrew, but you insisted on using Yiddish, even though that made it much more difficult for you to find actresses, since so few people speak Yiddish today. Why did you insist on Yiddish?

 

AG:  Because the original language of the Jews in the area of Czernovitz, Bukovina was Yiddish. So even if Appelfeld wrote the novel in Hebrew, the Jews didn’t speak Hebrew at the time.

 

DT:  For me, the tragedy of Tsili came at the end, with the footage of the children.  That signified looking forward, to how the Holocaust would affect things to come, as opposed to most other films, which look back at what the Holocaust destroyed.  Was that your intention?

 

AG:  Yes; that’s a fair assessment of what I was doing.

 

DT:  How closely did you work with Appelfeld?

 

AG:  I was very interested in understanding his point of view, but the work of filming is a lonely job.

 

DT:  You established a museum in Haifa to honor your father’s architectural achievements, and you yourself studied architecture before the Yom Kippur War.  Is there a relationship between your filmmaking and architecture?

 

AG:  Definitely.  When you study architecture, you learn a lot about form, and the meaning of form, and the way you can use form, both to improve housing but also as a symbolic gesture. Normally, I start by looking at sites before I even start casting actors.  I want to understand where I’ll be filming. I also like to know my sites quite a long time in advance to optimize them and see how I can move figures in these kinds of landscapes, both interior and exterior.

 

DT:  One of the things I find most potent about your filmography is that it captures the Jewish experience around the world—including the Jewish experience from the Arab point of view, as in Ana Arabia—but I don’t think of you as a Jewish filmmaker the way I think of Godard as a French filmmaker or Fellini as an Italian filmmaker.  Do you think of yourself as a Jewish filmmaker?

 

AG:  I don’t know what a Jewish filmmaker is, so I don’t know if I can answer you.  Jews have different interpretations of themselves, which is very often a subject of internal conflicts, because everybody interprets the meaning of being Jewish in a different way. You don’t have a Vatican, you don’t have a pope, you don’t have a central authority; it’s a very decentralized, kind of anarchic, structure.  That’s one of the things I like.   You can figure out yourself the meaning of being  a Jew.  Some people take it to very nationalistic directions.  Some people take it to very strict Orthodoxy, some people take it to more religious instruction and restrictions, like keeping kosher and following Shabbat. Some people take it more conceptually, so I think before I can answer your question, we have to discuss the meaning of being a Jew.

 

DT:  I don’t think we can do that in fifteen minutes. Tsili, like your films Ana Arabia and Kedma, is deeply meditative.  Do you see those films as distinct from some of your other films like Disengagment, or Kippur, or Kadosh?

 

AG:  They are different, both in form and narrative; they’re more a juxtaposition of situations than continuous narrative.  It’s a very minimalist phase, and I like it a lot. You’re carried by the film’s state of mind rather than by explicit words or narratives.

 

DT:  Is it a different way of working for you as a director?

 

AG:  It’s more a different construction.  The way I work with actors is not so different, although it’s not the same either.  It’s not following prescribed indication. When I give Sara Adler some indications in a film like Tsili, I feel completely free to tell her how she should relate to the landscape, to nature. It was the same when I asked Meshi to do this dance in the beginning.

 

DT:  I’ve been following your films ever since House and Field Diary because I think they’ll make a difference in the political situation in Israel.  Do you think so too, and is that what you’re hoping for with your cinema?

 

AG:  I think that we artists don’t have as much power as we think we have.  We don’t have any real power—we have only some symbolic power—but we have to start somewhere. At the same time, I don’t think that ideas are so weak.  I think that the planet is moved not only by greed and brutality and weapons but also ideas; religion and Marxism, like many other ideas, have moved the planet quite a lot.  I believe in ideas, and I think that we have to inject ideas into reality and hope that doing so will have some impact.  It doesn’t have, and it shouldn’t have, a kind of immediate “OK, I got out of the movie. Let’s make a revolution”—I think that would be oversimplified—but if you increase the level of understanding, I think that’s pretty good.

In some way it’s also associated with your previous question about architecture.  We are very much bombarded these days by architectural spectacle.  Famous architects make this very vain architecture, which is just a formal gesture. I think we have a similar problem in cinema, so we have to try to reinject meaning into form. Architecture and cinema are similar; when you have only form, it’s empty of meaning.  When you  have only ideological indoctrination without form, it also defies its meaning, so we have to try to have a dialogue between form and narrative and try to reinvent it.

I really like something Jeanne Moreau once told me.  She said that when she decides to do a new project, it’s because she can learn something she doesn’t know already.  I see a lot of actors who basically want to give you the number you’ve already seen.  I’m not interested in that.  When I decide to make a film, it’s because I want the film to teach me something.  That’s a fascinating road. It’s stimulating. When I will learn nothing more, I will stop making films.

 

Copyright © Director Talk 2015