Denys Arcand on the film: "It's a commentary on life, the lives people are leading, the lives around me, those of my friends: I give the best account of them possible. As a former history student, I find pompous titles amusing. Instead of calling my first film Talking Dirty, I chose The Decline of the American Empire. The next was The Barbarian Invasions, and now my latest is The Age of Ignorance. You shouldn't see anything more in it than what it is."
Emma de Caunes on her character: "She is venal. She's attracted by fame, success, and money, but, at the same time, she has strong nymphomaniac tendencies. It's a problem... Well, it depends whose side you're on. I'm not trying to get revenge. But often, since I have a pretty well-known father, I've had the opportunity to watch this type of behavior in action, to see women who are turned on by his prestige try to pick him up. It was amusing to act it out. It's the first time I've been asked to play this type of role, and it was awesomely fun."
Marc Labrèche on Denys Arcand: "I was very flattered and honored when Denys contacted me, because we'd never worked together. Denys usually works with the same family of actors, and has come back to them for film after film. I don't know anyone in Quebec who wouldn't be enchanted to work for Denys. When he called me, when the film was just a sketch in his head, he told me he was thinking of a character people would come to for advice with their problems. People are always asking this guy for answers, and of course, he's totally clueless, he has no solutions to suggest. This later became the screenplay for The Age of Ignorance. (...) I immediately felt comfortable with the part. Denys sees everything: he's a laser surgeon. Watching a scene, he can immediately detect exactly where it is right or wrong, the reasons why, and we can start in the middle to get it right. I immersed myself in this with pleasure from the first day of shooting to the last."
Denys Arcand on Marc Labrèche: "For me, the thing that's fundamental is my complicity, my understanding, with an actor. It's not just a technical thing like, "Can he or she play this type of part?" We once spent some time working together on one of his screenplays. We had a one-day brainstorming session. I realized that we laughed at the same jokes, at the same moments. And I felt good with him. In my opinion, that's plenty. I can take care of all the rest."
Dominique Besnehard on his transition to production: "After having devoted twenty years to actors, I wanted to go over to the other side. The first person who asked me to work on this film was Denise Robert. I'd known Denys Arcand for a long time – every time he wrote a screenplay, he'd send it to me to get my opinion, and to find out if I could help him cast the French actors. I am very proud and honored to begin my career as a producer with this film. It's a good way to jump from the profession of agent to that of producer."
Denys Arcand on the film's message: "I talk about my society, the one I live in, the city I live in: my films are located there. I hope they have a broader appeal. When I'm successful, my films usually end up interesting people from outside."
Denys Arcand on the Cannes selection: "I merely regret that the film isn't in Competition for Marc Labrèche's sake. I think he had an excellent chance of winning the Best Actor prize. He is magnificent. Otherwise, this is the second time I've closed the festival: it went well, it's painless. Cannes always gives a boost to a film; it's a very important festival."
Photo copyright AFP