The director of Belle Épine has brought together Tahar Rahim and Léa Seydoux for her poisonous romance Grand Central in which the impossible love of Hitchcock’s Notorious resurfaces in the setting of a nuclear power station. Zlotowski reveals the secrets of her latest film.
Tell us how your film came about.
It was my scriptwriter, Gaëlle Macé, who had the idea for the film. She had read a novel about the daily lives of nuclear industry workers – La Centrale by Elisabeth Filhol. It immediately made us want to locate a big love story in this forbidden, perilous world.
We had been working on the film for a few months when the Fukushima catastrophe struck. I was on the West Coast of the States, over which the radioactive cloud was supposed to pass, according to the alarmist news reports. It was surreal. Suddenly I was right there in the heart of the matter… this tragedy made us certain we had to go on.
Any special memory or anecdote from the shooting?
We make films about our fears. I’d just finished a film about an illegal motor biking circuit and I don’t even have my licence yet. I knew that shooting a film in a nuclear power station would involve keeping my pathological vertigo at bay… For one of the scenes, we had to get into a cradle which would lift us 20 metres above the decontamination pool. I hesitated for ages then finally got in. Just two weeks later, a similar cradle broke loose in a nuclear power station in France…
What films have influenced you?
It’s difficult to answer that, because it suggests you can differentiate between distinct types of film, and prefer one sort to another. I come from a generation which has not been able to decide between art house films and commercial films, nor even between fiction and documentary. For me all these worlds blend into one another, and breathe new life into each other. I have a sort of sampling culture which draws inspiration from every available source.
Saturday 18 May / Debussy Theatre / 11:00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
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