Pater: a dialogue between Alain Cavalier and Vincent Lindon

Alain Cavalier © AFP

The filmmaker Alain Cavalier, who won the Jury Prize with Thérèse in 1986, examines the interaction between a director and an actor and the nature of power relationships in Pater. It is the fourth and final French film in Competition and is a particularly unusual work somewhere between fiction and a documentary.


Thierry Frémaux got people talking about the film at the press conference announcing the Selection – “It’s an extremely unusual and incredibly inventive film – one of the strangest films you will see at Cannes this year.”


In Pater, Alain Cavalier and Vincent Lindon play themselves – a director and an actor, two friends with a father-son relationship who discuss what film they should make together.  From time to time, they make films of themselves playing powerful men. “Just for fun”, says Alain Cavalier. And to raise the eternal unanswerable question of cinema – is it true or not?


Alain Cavalier has had a funny career. At the height of his success (Mise à Sac (Pillaged), La Chamade (Heartbeat)) he decided to stop making films. Eight years later he made his comeback with simpler more experimental pieces like Le Plein de super (Fill ‘er Up with Super – 1976) and Martin et Lea (Martin and Lea – 1978). After the unexpected success of Thérèse, which won the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes in 1986, he retired again for a few years and turned away from fiction, actors and stories to focus on people and their lives.


The arrival of small digital video cameras was a turning point in his career, as they let him film things up close and gave him his unusual style somewhere between documentary and fictionalised autobiography.


Since Vies (Lives) in 2000, he has been producing films more regularly.  Two of his most recent films were selected for Un Certain Regard: Le filmeur, an exercise in self-analysis that won him the appropriately-named Intimacy Prize, and Irène (Irene) about a former lover who tragically died. He returns to the Competition with Pater.


The film is being screened on Tuesday 17 May at 4:30 pm, Grand Théâtre Lumière.


B. de M.