French writer and filmmaker, Emmanuel Carrère is looking forward to his experience on the Feature Film Jury with enthusiasm and relish.
What is the image or the memory you associate with the Festival de Cannes?
My first experience at Cannes was as a critic for Télérama and Positif magazines. I was very young, 23 or 24 years old, and I had a real hunger for films. I saw an awful lot of them. Too many. I remember that I sometimes dozed off, and at the end of the day everything became a complete mishmash. I’m not saying it wasn’t an interesting experience, but it didn’t always do justice to the films.
La Classe de Neige, by Claude Miller won the Prix du Jury in 1997 and you did the adaptation. In which role do you feel more comfortable, Jury Member or scriptwriter for a film in competition?
When you’re a scriptwriter, you are of course fully behind the film, but you’re not in the front line. As for being on the Jury it’s a very comfortable position.
In which of the Jury member’s skin would you like to be for a few hours?
There are of course the two beautiful young women. But, I’m also very curious to meet Victor Erice. I’ve seen two of his films that I really liked. His discretion and way of not stealing the limelight while he influences so many filmmakers intrigues me. I have a lot of respect and admiration for his cinema.
What is your very first memory of cinema?
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Richard Fleischer, with Kirk Douglas playing the harpooner, and James Mason as Captain Nemo. I remember it very clearly. I really wanted to become like that: I didn’t know whether it was to be harpooner, Captain… but I wanted to be there on the boat.
Which movie actress would you be ready to give up everything for ?
I don’t have any desire to give up everything at the moment…
An actress who left a mark on you then, I can see you’re still thinking about it?
The leading lady of Letter from an Unknown Woman by Max Ophuls always affects me… or perhaps Gene Tierney in Heaven Can Wait by Ernst Lubitsch. When she’s listening to Don Ameche confessing his love for her, she was wonderful.
D’Autres Vies que la Mienne (Other Lives than Mine) is being adapted. Vincent Lindon, your lead in The Moustache, will play the lead role again. Is this by chance?
No. Vincent Lindon and Philippe Lioret became very good friends, and Vincent Lindon got Philippe Lioret to read my book because he was interested in the role. In a way you can say that Vincent Lindon was the originator of the project.
What book would you like to adapt for the cinema?
None. If I make another film, it’ll be an original filmscript. I once adapted my own book, La Moustache, but I found it was an extremely lazy exercise.
What are your current film projects?
None. I’m currently writing a book.
Which of your books would you not like to see adapted… if there are any left unadapted?
Yes, there are a few. But, I don’t really see how anyone could be interested. If someone asked me, I’d simply wish them good luck.
Have you thought about writing a book about your experience on the Cannes Jury?
I hadn’t thought about it, but who knows? But, I’m not intending to take notes because simply I think that things are really worth remembering. I don’t believe in notes. And I think that experiences need time to find their shape. I can’t see myself going home in two weeks and saying I want to write it down.
If you make a film, could it be a film in the first person like your books?
I’ve made two films, a fiction which was adapted from my novel, La Moustache, and a documentary Return to Kotelnich, which takes place in a small Russian town. I’m deeply attached to this film. I like it a lot more than the other, infinitely more. Even if it’s a bit shaggy, messy and perhaps because it is shaggy and messy. If I made another film, what I would like to do is to move in that direction: something less formal than “you write a script and look for the actors”, because there are so many people out there who do that sort of thing 100 000 times better than me. I have the impression that with a somewhat more frontal, somewhat bizarre method like Return to Kotelnich, you can produce a more unique result, with a greater singularity and therefore a greater necessity. I would really like to make another film, but you need to find a quite specific idea.
And your book project? Can you tell us more?
I’m not talking about it for the moment, not out of secrecy but because I’ve not made sufficient progress with it. A little bit out of superstition. Until something has found a sort of critical mass, from which point you tell yourself ‘this will be finished’, I prefer not to talk about it. It’s really nice to be able to take two weeks off from that work to be here. And to completely immerse myself in something else. The experience must clear out your head. I think lots of things are definitely going to happen.