PRESS CONFERENCE – Michel Hazanavicius: “I wanted to tell the story which had never been told in film”

Bérénice Bejo and Michel Hazanavicius © FDC / CD

Michel Hazanavicius, Bérénice Bejo and the entire crew of The Search, presented in Competition, came for the traditional meeting with the press. Selected highlights from the conversation.

Michel Hazanavicius on the difficulty of dealing with the subject as delicate as The Search:
“I’ve never had the impression of making simple films. Every one of them has grown out of a strong desire. The constraints of the subject are just one of the things you have to work with. This film set out to do many things, but the main purpose was to tell this story that no one had ever told in film. I wanted to take the most human angle possible. I tried to work in a more direct relationship to the characters and the story.”

Michel Hazanavicius on the relevance of dealing with the subject:

“When you begin to take an interest in Chechnya, the question of relevance doesn’t arise. You have all the ingredients of a modern war. War has moved from armies to the people. We’re talking about 100,000 dead here. The images have been controlled and manipulated. I was extremely moved by this massacre, amid general indifference.”

Michel Hazanavicius on the image of the Russian Army conveyed by the film:
“I tried to make this a film about ordinary people exposed to war, whether they are soldiers or not. I didn’t want the characters to be politically aware. Based on what I’ve been able to read, the Russian Army was quite  brutal, and often behaved violently. At the time it was being rebuilt and is therefore partly made up of mercenaries. I did a lot of research into this. I don’t think that I’ve betrayed the daily reality of the soldiers.”

Bérénice Bejo on his part and his music:
“What I found interesting was that Michel wrote a character for me who was not the hero of the story. The Westerners are always those who know it all in war films. This film focuses on the civilians. Music is part of the culture in the villages where we filmed – it’s deeply rooted in them and as a way of expressing themselves. It’s a film all about resilience.”

Reported by Benoit Pavan