Monday, March 4, 2013


What's left to say about Claire Denis that hasn't already been said here on PINNLAND EMPIRE? I've written about all of her features, dedicated a "cinema of..." series to her work, tracked down the co-star of two of her films (Alice Houri) and have managed to reference either her or her films in numerous reviews & writings. I guess the only thing left to do is to interview her. This seemed like a longshot but thankfully Alice Houri understands my intense/borderline unhealthy fascination with Claire's work and put us in contact with each other.
Claire was nice of enough to take the time out to answer some questions regarding her upcoming film; Les Salauds (which reunites her with Vincent Lindon, Agnes Godard and a few of her other regulars). Anyone familiar with this site should know she's PINNLAND EMPIRE favorite #1, so this is pretty special.
Given that Les Salauds is still somewhat under wraps and not that much is known about it yet besides the basic plot (only one official movie still has been released so far) take this opportunity to read about this mysterious & anticipated film directly from it's creator.

PINNLAND EMPIRE: Where did the origin of your new film come from? How was it birthed?

CLAIRE DENIS: The origin of this film is my health in a way. I was obliged to stay in France for a while. My projected next film was due to be shot somewhere far away from home (Wild, dangerous and hot). So in March my producer suggested I make a little film in the neighborhood and to start shooting three months from then. A little film but a fast one. I guess it was so crazy, it looked like a joke. But the producer was also betting me to respond so I said OK to be a sport in a way. Not to react like a little thing - a challenge I thought.
And I start wondering, and Vincent Lindon, the actor, told me he wanted to be part of this crazy bet. I was wondering even more as everyone seemed serious.
I was watching a Kurosawa film, no two actually, with Mifune and from then on I started drifting towards a story that, little by little, transforms into something I was not expecting…towards Faulkner. A move that I would not have done directly or openly. I did it in a hidden way.
Let’s say in Faulkner what happens is inevitable. It was therefore an obligation to try a different way to work with J.P Fargeau. Piece by piece. Like brick by brick without hesitating too much as if everything was urgent. I have no idea if it was for the best or for the worst. I wanted to be ready to shoot in time. Painful & interesting, yes. Every day I was forcing myself to believe in the film.

PE: Do you consider Les Salauds a noir, a revenge thriller, a drama or something else?

CD: I have no name like that under my tongue. The film is not finished, it’s still free.

Les Salauds (2013)

PE: Would you say the basic plot behind Les Salauds (a rich businessman causing the death of a smaller businessman) is a comment on France’s current economic state or a metaphor about the evils behind money & greed?

CD: No, no, it is not really the story. The suicide has, in a way, another cause I guess. And on top of that, no metaphor about anything. Evil is a very complex word for me. I do not use it. It’s almost religious. Hate and Love yes, I believe.

PE: Given that Jean-Pol Fergeau co-wrote some of your more dreamy scripts, will Les Salauds have a surreal/dream-like ambiance similar to L’intrus or Nenette & Boni?

CD: Don't know about that, I am making the film. I have no idea. For me l'intrus was such a natural and realistic story. I was a believer. I am a believer.

Alex Descas & Claire Denis - 35 Shots Of Rum (2008)

PE: Is the filmmaking process easier when you work with people you’re so familiar with like; Agnes Godard, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Alex Descas & Gregoire Colin?

CD: I did work also with Vincent Lindon before. No it is not easier, it is even more difficult - not to trust a sort of habit, not to be bored together. And also I feel good when I see their face in the morning. They represent my companions in cinema.

PE: In between White Material & Les Salauds you made the short documentary; To The Devil.

          -Can you tell the readers a little bit about it and what it meant to you?

          -Are there elements of To The Devil in Salauds?

CD: I did it yes, it was part of a project for a feature film (as I told you to be shot "far away") and it was produced by Jinju film festival. It's about a short visit to a man who lives in Surinam.

No connection.

Thief (1981)

PE: What are some of the latest films you’ve seen that have really impressed you?

CD: El Estudiante, Leviathan, Hong Sang Soo’s new film (In Another Country) & Thief (yes, Thief by Michael Mann with James Caan & Tuesday Weld)

PE: What current filmmakers are you a fan of?

CD: Lisandro Alonso is one of them, but listing is terrible and boring

PE: Are there any American actors besides Vincent Gallo that you’d like to work with?

CD: Yes I do, but Vincent Gallo is Vincent Gallo, that's a simple fact.

PE: Are there any future plans (that you know of) on releasing your “rare” and more unseen work like US Go Home & Keep It For Yourself?

CD: No time right now. I think Vincent Gallo has those films on the internet. So I heard…

PE: It seems like you go through periods where you release films frequently (Beau Travail, Trouble Every Day & Friday Night) then you go through periods where you take a break from making feature films for about 4 to 5 years. Is Les Salauds the start of another one of those periods where we can expect to see another feature to follow soon?

CD: I have no idea about that, man. Each project is a full time program.


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