MAR DEL PLATA– A high-profile French movie “My Golden Days”, helmed by Arnaud Desplechin (“Kings and Queen,” “A Christmas Tale”) opened the 30th Mar del Plata Film Festival, after the inaugural gala on Friday Oct. 30.
World premiering in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, “Days” is sold by Wild-Bunch, which has a strong lineup of big well-reviewed arthouse big fest hits that are of large appeal for Latin America’s big crossover distributors, and big festivals as well.
“Days” will open in Argentina on Nov. 12 via Carlos Pascual and Maria Zumbo’s Zeta Films. Magnolia Pictures has Desplechin’s movie’s rights for U.S. It is scheduled to open March 2016.
Distribited by Le Pacte, film grossed $1.5 million in France, down on Desplechin’s domestic B.O. high of $4.6 million for “A Christmas Tale,” but suggesting a hometurf audience base for the Gallic auteur.
A Proustian vividly tender coming-of-ager – according to reviewers – “Days” received enthusiastic critical plaudits, such as that “Desplechin delivers one of the most beautiful female portrays made ever in cinema,” said one Argentine blog reviewer.
“It’s a film about youth, mainly a love story, of a young hero and his relationship with his family, with love and with politics [constructed] in an almost biographical way,” Desplechin explained at Mar del Plata, where he was one of its highest-profile guests.
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Politically committed, Desplechin signed last week a Calais migrants petition alongside Jean Luc Godard among many others French filmmakers who headed the initiative supported by more than 25,000 people on Sunday 25. Document called on the French Government to increase its response to Europe’s refugees crisis.
Beginning with thriller undertones, “Days ” is set in the 80’s. “I don’t remember anymore my 80’s. I remember the 80’s of my hero. And this is around the time when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The film is built, as I said, on the relationship between Paul and his family, Paul and the world and Paul and love. The film is built like three Russian dolls which pile up: a personal story, a spy story and the third a love story that will invade his whole life.
And for me the ‘80s revolves around the time when Europe was split in two parts and the reunification, which is the political background to the movie.”
Desplechin was at Mar del Plata for just a day, where he was warmly welcomed by fest and audiences. In a press conference, about the biographical content of “Days,” he declared:
“I’m afraid I have too few memories. I’m shier than my characters. I sought refuge in the cinema. I was a shy kid and I wanted to protect myself from life. Theatre is a direct encounter with life, but cinema is a dream, a filter, there is a certain distance,” he confessed.
He went on: “Cinema has been the place that has welcomed me and has protected me. I spent my youth reading and protecting myself. I remember the characters of my readings rather than my personal memories, but when I write a movie I transform,. It’s a synthesis with my imagination.”
About his inspirations for “Days,” Desplechin mentioned Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders,” Inmar Bergman’s “Summer with Monica” and Milos Forman’s “Loves of a Blonde.” In addition he declared his admiration for U.S. independent filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach.
Very discreet in anticipating next projects, Desplechin told Variety: “I’m at a very early stage, developing the characters. There will be an actress and a director. This is something I never did before, for the first time the characters are from my own world, close to my real life, something that for a long time I banned. For the first time I will break this ban.”
“While I was saying this to you, I was thinking about the actor I could propose the role of the director and I’m afraid I will propose it again to Mathieu Amalric,” Desplechin said smiling. Amalric, one of France’s most respected actors, hgas starred in Desplechin films back to his breakout “My Sex Life” in 1996.
“Days” opened fest thanks in part to the good offices of Massimo Saidel, recently appointed as cinema attache to the French Embassy in Buenos Aires, and managing director of the recently opened London-based New Entertainment Organisation (NEO), a boutique film distribution company.
Saidel underlined to Variety his aim to defend European cinema everywhere: “This year will be the best for French cinema in Argentina since 2002 –with the exception of 2012 due to ‘Untouchables’ and ‘The Artist.’ In 2013 French cinema market share in Argentina dropped to 0.9%. And this year, with figures through October, French films have punched 1.5 million admissions, double last year’s figure.” These figures will obviously increase with “The Little Prince” in Christmas, among others. That figures will help to close the year with a 4% French film market share, approximately.
Attending the event, Mar del Plata fest prexy Jose Martinez Suarez thanked Desplechin for his visit. “Argentinean cinema has learnt a lot from French cinema.” Inspired by Pierre Chenal and Daniel Tinayre, among others, it initiated a cinematography with a distinctive feature: a tradition for quality.”