Xavier Giannoli returns to the Competition with “In The Beginning”

"In The Beginning" by Xavier Giannoli presented in Competition

The third French film in the running for the Palme d’Or, In the Beginning, is the occastion for Xavier Giannoli to return to Cannes, three years after the in-Competition screening of The Singer and eleven years after his 15-minute L’Interview was awarded the Short Film Palme d’Or. Giannoli’s latest feature is a drama set in Northern France, and it is based on a real-life event. A small-time swindler defrauds an entire region into thinking he is a state contractor, and he builds a totally illegal highway – in the middle of nowhere.

The film stars François Cluzet as the con man. Giannoli worked with him some ten years ago on a short film, Dialogue au sommet. "I thought of him for this part because he had never played a character like this," says the director. "So there was some unknown territory to be conquered. And this imposture story was about the risk one takes by playing at being someone else. So, there was clearly common ground between an actor’s work and this character’s lies: social comedy and human truth. That’s how we worked, precariously balanced on this high-risk border, faced with a disturbing identity flaw. It is a difficult, tumultuous part, full of contradictory emotions." François Cluzet’s co-stars are Emmanuelle Devos, who was onscreen yesterday in The Wild Grass by Alain Resnais, and Gérard Depardieu, who played a supporting role in Giannoli’s The Singer in 2006.

The filmmaker faced the challenge of shooting the construction of a real highway in the wintertime, a metaphor for the struggle to make a film. "All the difficulties with the weather, financing, the human and technical problems we had made us feel a little closer every day to our main character," Giannoli went on. "Basically, I was lucky with my film to have to face the same ordeals as he had, building his highway. In fact, at night, a highway construction site looks strangely like a film shoot.."


The Press Conference