By Régis Roinsard and Joshua Handler
The responses below are from Régis Roinsard, writer/director of the 2013 film, POPULAIRE, nominated for the César Award for Best First Film.
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
If you love movies, you have the curiosity to see all kinds of movies from all genres, from all countries, independent or mainstream, even with subtitles. Otherwise you're not a cinephile, you're just a large consumer of films.
I don't know very well what is an indie movie. A movie made with less money? A movie made outside of the studios ? This concept doesn't really exist in France. What interests me the most is to see movies of people who have a vision. I read that Janusz Kaminski said that Spielberg doesn't like the theater because there is no angle to find. I don't like movies that don't have angles or [ones that] use the same angle [as] the others. That does not mean that their vision, their prism of reality, [doesn't touch] me, but my desire [as a cinephile means that I want to see other angles]. For example I take great pleasure [in seeing] a blockbuster from J.J. Abrams!
I don't know very well what "world cinema" means. I think that for an American it might mean all non-American films. For the French, it seems to me that it could mean all non-US and non-French movies! In France, a large number of films from all countries are distributed, even if the majority of the films are American and French. I am fortunate to be in France where a lot of movies are financed unlike other countries that have not yet found new ways of financing. Beyond the fact that I can see foreign films with a different way of filming or storytelling, beyond the fact that I can find different movies that make me better understand the world in which I live, I can see movies from Italian, Australian, German, Spanish, Greek filmmakers who have fought more than I did to [make] their film. Their will, their rage to turn their inner necessity of making a film can be seen on the screen. Some foreign films can remind you or teach you that the reason why you make a movie is to be indispensable. Finally, I think I prefer the word "rebel" than the word "independent". I think a rebel film is perhaps a film who upsets the established order. A rebel film is often progressive, it [creates] more disorder for more freedom. Rebel films can make you think more freely. For aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers, it's a good start.
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why?
For some teenagers in my family a '90's movie is already an old movie! I keep telling them that SUNRISE of Murnau is one of the finest films of all time, [but] it's very difficult for them to want to watch a silent film in black and white! I probably would have reacted the same way at their age... So I just tell them [some]thing. When I watch a movie of our days, I know exactly how it is done, the manufacturing processes are always the same in almost all movies. But, I still don't know how Dreyer made the special effects of VAMPYR, I still don't know how Minnelli illuminated AN AMERICAN IN PARIS's dance scenes or how Jacques Tati has staged some plans for PLAYTIME without video playback? And it's amazing to see old movies because some of them have a fantastic visual power. As a filmmaker it's great to try to discover how the others were made and it's cool to find your own methods and what kind of cinema you want to do. The same thing goes for actors. You can't deny the magic of James Stewart, Buster Keaton, Cary Grant, Jack Lemon, Marcello Mastroiani, Toshiro Mifune, Monica Vitti, Catherine Deneuve, Deborah Kerr, Peter Sellers or Jean Gabin!!! I still don't understand how James Stewart expressed so well his fear and determination in BEND OF THE RIVER. I still don't understand how Anthony Mann directed him. I think seeing old movies helps to learn, to create one's own tastes. And finally you must unlearn and make your own choices, choices of your time - it's useless to be nostalgic!How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when directing POPULAIRE?
I didn't watch any film during manufacturing POPULAIRE. I didn't want to be influenced by films. I remember so many movies I've seen, I have them in mind all the time. Even if a scene I made looks like a scene from another movie, I don't consciously copy and it would not necessarily be an exact copy, but a copy of a souvenir.
Also during the manufacture of POPULAIRE, some souvenirs were more prevalent than others. On the walls of my office and editing room I put pictures of actors and filmmakers that I love. There were filmmakers [from] studios, but also iconoclastic, popular actors and others [that are] more underground, French, Italian, English, American. For example, directors of American films of the '50s [of] whom I've put [up] portraits, are for the most born in Germany, Hungary, Italy. [No matter what], I need to see movies from all kind of directors.
What's one American indie and one non-English-language film that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Friday.This year, throughout the films I have seen, I can recommend two old American rebel movies:GUN CRAZY by Joseph H. Lewis and FORTY GUNS by Samuel FullerTwo non-English-language movies :BARBARA by Christian Petzold and VENUS IN FUR by Roman Polanski