You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French Directors Talk Terrorism, Movie Landscape at COLCOA Festival

Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist,”””The Search”), Pierre Niney (“A Perfect Man”), Anne Fontaine (“Gemma Bovery”) were among the Gallic talent and filmmakers who spoke about the local movie biz at a Variety-sponsored panel at COLCOA, the Los Angeles-based festival dedicated to French films.

Alix Delaporte (“The Last Hammer Blow”), Yann Gozlan (“A Perfect Man”), Shirel Amitay (“Atlit”) and Sabrina Van Tassel (“Silenced Wall”) also sat on the panel.

While the theme of the roundtable was the influence of Hollywood movies on French cinema, the filmmakers covered a range of topics, including the impact of the terrorist attack Charlie Hebdo and how it’s spurred creative freedom in France. Hazanavicus said the most sinister effect of the latest terrorist assaults is the rise of xenophobia and the far-right party. Fontaine, meanwhile, said the antisemitism in France had reached a peak and hadn’t been so ‘violent’in decades.

On the influence of American films, Hazanavicius, who is presenting “The Search” (pictured above) at COLCOA and currently developing a few projects in the States, quipped that one had to be “blind and deaf” not to be influenced by American cinema. “There are so many great directors and actors working here,” argued Hazanavicius. The Oscar-winning helmer pointed out, however, that France produces 250 films a year and is one of the only countries in Europe where local movies can get a higher box office share than Hollywood films. “So basically, we are influenced by both French and American films,” said the helmer.

Gozlan, whose film “An Ideal Man” is inspired by the work of Patricia Highsmith (author of “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), agreed with Hazanavicius that the influence has always flowed both ways between France and America. “The French New Wave inspired film noir directors (including Samuel Fuller) in the 1940’s and 1950’s in America, while American cinema influenced another generation of French directors such as Jean-Pierre Melville,” explained Gozlan.

As an actor, Niney said he was heavily influenced by U.S. filmmakers and comedians, such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. “I tend to work the body language, the physical aspect of a role before the psychological dimension, and that’s different from what we learn at French acting schools where the approach is more theoretical and the emphasis is really on the psychological interpretation of a character.”

The panel also discussed the strong representation of female directors in the French industry. Amitay proclaimed the question of gender has become irrelevant in France. Fontaine, meanwhile, argued that the perception of producers towards women directors in France has changed in recent years. “French producers used to think that women could only make movies for women, intimate dramas about touching stories; now they know we can make bigger, mainstream movies as well, and as result they have commercial expectations which they didn’t have before,” said Fontaine, whose latest film “Gemma Bovery” with Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Luchini performed well in French theaters. Fontaine cited Agnes Varda as a role model for many French women directors.

As the theatrical market for foreign-language arthouse movies gets more and more crowded, getting selected at a prominent festival is key for aspiring filmmakers, noted Delaporte. “In France you can finance a small film with no cast, but if you don’t have a festival lined up it will be much harder, if not impossible, to make your movie exist.”

Spearheaded by Francois Truffart, the nine-day COLCOA fest wraps on April 28.

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    WGA Awards 2019: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Wins Comedy Series Award

    The 71st annual Writers Guild Awards are underway at dual ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. and at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won the comedy series award for Kate Fodor, Noah Gardenswartz, Jen Kirkman, Sheila Lawrence, Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman Palladino. Bill Hader [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content