Oscar-nominated writer, filmmaker and actress Julie Delpy, who is at the Zurich Film Festival to present her latest film “My Zoe” and participate in the Woman of Impact Symposium, shared her thoughts on the #MeToo movement, equal pay, her career highlights and the prospect of a “Before Midnight” sequel with Guy Lodge at the Variety Lounge presented by Credit Suisse.
Delpy said she was open to the idea of reprising her role as Celine in a sequel to the “Before” trilogy, directed by Richard Linklater and also starring Ethan Hawke, but joked that she wasn’t sure the “industry is ready to hear a 50-year-old woman expressing herself.” “I think it’s all cute before that… It’s a very tough business, and it’s fine because I’m tough as hell, but it’s a cruel business,” said Delpy.
“I think we’re done now with (the ‘Before’ trilogy) but we went back to it every nine years. It was an interesting study of a 20-year-old falling in love, a 30-year-old falling in love again and then at early 40’s how to sustain that love. It’s really about the relationship.”
Delpy also said she was paid a tenth of her co-star Hawke for the first movie (“Before Sunrise”), half for the second film (“Before Sunset”) and the same as Hawke for the third movie (“Before Midnight”).
Delpy said reaching equal pay and raising the financing for movies was still tougher for female talent and directors but less so for the younger generation. Delpy said she spoke to the French director Celine Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) a few years ago and heard her say that she didn’t have as many difficulties getting her movie “Tomboy” financed. She said her own generation, however, was still in combat mode.
She also argued that film reviewers, most of whom are men, are significantly harsher when judging films directed by women than films made by men.
The harshness they face makes it harder for women directors to bounce back and make a second and third film. “It’s very fragile to be a woman filmmaker… Women should not be pushed by patriarchy.” Her advice for young female helmers is to “freeze (their) eggs” to be able to make their first film before becoming a mother because it’s so difficult to juggle both.
The outspoken feminist said she looked back at her time as a young actress and said although she loved acting, she found the process of auditioning for parts to be a “traumatic experience.” She nevertheless holds dear memories of her experiences working with Jean-Luc Godard on her very first film as an actress on “Detective,” as well as with Agnieszka Holland and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
She said she learned a tremendous amount from these experiences, especially with Godard. “When I met Godard I said to him, ‘you don’t need to cast me, I’m 14 years, but please can I come and visit your set so I see how you work?’ And he said, ‘No I’m going to cast you so you get paid a little bit and you can come on set any day you want.” So she spent all her time looking at the way he worked, which she said was so different from all other directors.
Her seventh directorial outing and one of the 55 films directed by women playing at Zurich, “My Zoe” blends an intimate family drama and science fiction. It’s a departure for Delpy, who is best known for directing comedies such as “Two Days in Paris” and “Two Days in New York.” But Delpy said her computer was full of scripts of all kinds of genres.
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