Cannes 2011 #17

Chatting with Bonello

Compétition officielle


When you start to make a new film you want to do something different from your other films but then you realize you cannot. When I watch L’Apollonide, I understand that I could be seen as a mix of all my other films. It’s scary, and at the same time you can’t do anything about it. It’s about your faith in a certain way of making films.


It’s nothing theoretical. You don’t think so much how you’re going to do it. It’s this way, not this way… This comes, of course, from films that you’ve seen before that you like, you’re thinking what can be made, what can’t be made…


What I do, and it’s a big mistake, is that I’m totally free when I write. When the script is finished, I look at it and say, ‘How the fuck am I going to do that ? How am I going to do some tears of sperm and a panther ?’… It’s just a nightmare. But you take problems one by one and you try to solve them… When I write I feel very generous to the spectator, I say, ‘I’m going to give them this, I’m going to give them that…


It’s a film I didn’t see again [since it came out], but it probably influenced me in a way… in fact, I think I know how it influenced me. One of my uncertainities was the atmosphere of the brothel… so I went directly to that opium den feeling in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s film, because it keeps the sensuality but is not hysterical. There’s a small homage in my film to Hou, the Chinese violin.


I like repetition very much, I use it in all of my films. Brian Eno says, ‘Repetion is a form of change.’


I’m doing a lot because the environment in the film is a single location. So I thought, ‘How can I give the spectators some air using space and time ?’ But I assume that my film is baroque in a way that Hou’s film is not.

Maybe I put too much in the film. It remains a small budget – around three million – but it’s my most expensive… It should have been made for six, but I know how to make it cheaply.


I have to say I don’t feel very comfortable in the French cinema. This is why I’m trying to do different things. When I was in competition eight years ago there were four American films in the festival : The Brown Bunny, Elephant, Mystic River, and The Matrix 2. Each of these films go very far in a different direction. When I came back to Paris after the festival, I said, ‘My god, poor French ! Where are we ?’ I don’t know if I would be comfortable with the American way of making films, but it interests me.


My films are not so much about gender, I think. It’s more about the relationship of head and body. When I was young I was very influenced by the films of David Cronenberg, which are all about that.


Romanticism is something that is sick. For example, someone asked me about a rose in L’apollonide that appears twice. He asked why it was there twice, and I said, ‘If I put it once, it’s sentimentalism ; if I put it twice, it’s romanticism.’ It’s a little grotesque, you know ? It’s sick…


I think every film belongs to the period in which it’s made. If you see today a film made in the ‘70s set in 1900, you still say it’s a film from the ‘70s. With my film, their going to say it’s a 2011 movie. So why not use this music ? The idea of soul music comes from black Americans, slavery… the relationship works for me.


It’s tough [to direct that]. I prepared them a lot. I would say, ‘In six days you have to cry, in five days you have to dance… and then on the day that we would shoot I wouldn’t say a word to them ! And when we shot I would say that I would only do one take, to instill a bit of fear.

par Gabe Klinger
vendredi 27 mai 2011

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