January 23, 2022

“I have always had a somewhat instinctive relationship to my films”

FILMMAKER IN THE BOTTOM OF EYES – The father of “OSS 117”, and of “The Artist” received both the praise of his peers but also the most lively critics. Even if he says he is sensitive to them, making films makes him happy. Right in his boots, he answers our film buff questionnaire.

Michel Hazanavicius was born on March 29, 1967 in Paris. Master of parody, he directed spy comedies with Jean Dujardin OSS 117: Cairo, nest of spies (2006) and OSS 117: Rio no longer responds (2009), before triumphing with a silent black and white film, The Artist, Oscar for best film in 2012. President of the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, which runs until December 18, 2021, Michel Hazanavicius answered tit for tat to our film enthusiast questionnaire.

Does the cinema make you happy?
In my life as a man, yes. I have a double relationship with the cinema. Doing it makes me happy, as long as we agree on the definition of happiness. As a spectator, not always, but I always tend to think the bottom line: I would be much more unhappy in a world without cinema.

What was the first movie you saw and where did you see it?
Pinocchio, from Disney, with my parents and my brother Serge. I was little, 5 or 6 years old, and the episode in the belly of the whale terrified me. Maybe I even peed in my panties.

“Pinocchio” from 1940.

COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL © WALT DISNEY

Where does your desire to make films come from?
I was born in 1967 and at that time the cinema was part of cultural life. We talked about it at home, people argued about certain films. Anyway, my parents and their friends. I imagine that I wanted to make movies to please my mom. And then when I saw Belmondo’s films or heard him speak, I told myself that the cinema was an environment in which to live, and therefore enviable.

“Unfortunately, I am much more sensitive to attacks than to praise”

A film a little above all the others?
The catwalks are against my philosophy, but today I would say A difficult life, de Dino Risi (1961).

“A difficult life” by Dino Risi with Alberto Sordi.

Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica

You shoot a remake. Which ?
I just shot one, Z (like Z), which is inspired by a Japanese horror comedy, Do not cut!, by Shin’ichirō Ueda, released in 2017 and produced in a week and a single sequence shot by students at an art school in Tokyo. It’s easier and less intimidating to tackle this genre of cult little movie than to remake a masterpiece of movie history.

A book that you dreamed of adapting?
Lord of the pigsties, by Tristan Egolf, published in 1998. The idea is still in the back of my mind.

What are you sensitive to during the screening of your film at a festival?
I have both good and bad memories of three of my films selected at the Cannes Film Festival and which were variously appreciated by the press. Unfortunately, I am much more sensitive to attacks than praise, and in Cannes, critics have sometimes had a hard tooth against my films.

“I am not a fan of the notion of nationality for human beings. Even less for films. ”

Do you watch your films again. Why ?
It may have happened to me to see it again during a screening at a festival, but otherwise, I avoid the situation, I don’t really like looking behind me.

A scene you missed?
There are plenty. In my last film, The Forgotten Prince (2020), the end, for example, is missed.

An unforgettable scene?
The parking lot scene in We loved each other so much, Ettore Scola, when Vittorio Gassman, who has become a wealthy and somewhat crooked lawyer, comes across his friends, who have remained faithful to their youthful ideals, and passes himself off as the guard of the parking lot so as not to confess to them the truth.

“We loved each other so much”, by Ettore Scola with Vittorio Gassman.

Tamasa Distribution

Which actor or actress do you regret never having filmed?
Alberto Sordi and Gena Rowlands.

Do your films have a nationality?
No None. I am not a fan of the notion of nationality for human beings. Even less for films.

A close-up that upsets you?
Black and white close-ups are always beautiful. Let’s say Gloria Swanson watching her old movies in Twilight Boulevard, the Billy Wilder (1950).

“Twilight Boulevard” by Billy Wilder 1950.

“Twilight Boulevard” by Billy Wilder 1950.

Paramount

A traveling shot that transports you?
In The Host, by Bong Joon-ho, there is a very nice lateral tracking shot that is close to the characters running.

The last movie that made you cry?
I cry a lot at the movies. Lately I shed my tear in front A triumph, by Emmanuel Courcol.

“A Triumph” with David Ayala, Kad Merad, Lamine Cissokho, Saïd Benchnafa.

“A Triumph” with David Ayala, Kad Merad, Lamine Cissokho, Saïd Benchnafa.

Memento Films Distribution

A movie that makes you want to dance?
Let’s sing in the rain.

A city in a movie?
Vienna in The Third Man, by Carol Reed (1949).

What review (s) do you rely on?
I always organize screenings of my films during editing and I try to invite people who make films and who are benevolent. I trust their judgment. It may be a bit demago but I also like the reviews of people who do not belong to the world of cinema, for their neutrality.

Which of your films do you have a soft spot for?
The Great Diversion, because it’s a film I made when I was 25 and which has been hidden for a long time for rights issues. Even today, regularly, 20-year-old kids continue to discover it and talk to me about it with emotion. No one is making any money on this film and I find it gratifying to see him live his life on his own.

Orson Welles in

Orson Welles in “The American Class” by Michel Hazanavicius.

Canal+

“I don’t try to theorize what I do in my films”

At what point in your life might you consider quitting making films?
Anytime: if I don’t feel like it anymore, I will stop.

A song you’ve never liked so much as in a movie?
New York, New York, in New York, New York, by Martin Scorsese (1977).

What images do you watch on the Internet?
I mostly watch movies, on LaCinetek for example.

What are your films obsessed with?
It’s very difficult for me to have the necessary perspective. I’ve always had a somewhat instinctive relationship with my films, I don’t try to theorize what I’m doing. I would say the framework, the composition of the shots.

Your first emotion at the cinema?
The buttocks of Sandra Julien in Driving license, by Jean Girault (1974).

The absolute artist?
Picasso, because we have the feeling that everything he does, everything he touches, is driven by a creative force. If he whistles while painting, it should almost be recorded.

In 2050, the cinema will be …
… Precious.

Why are you filming?
Why not.

Is the glass half empty or half full?
We always tend to underestimate both.