Cannes 2019: the Dardenne brothers aim for a third Palme d’Or

Present at the festival since 1987, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are once again in the running for the official selection with Young Ahmada feature film on Islamist radicalization.

Not jaded, always excited: The Cannes Film Festival is always “a new adventure” for the Dardenne brothers, whose latest film Young Ahmad will be competing this year. Already rewarded with two Palmes d’or for Rosetta (1999) and The Child (2005), the Belgian brothers are well aware that the bar is very high for a third Palme that no director has ever obtained. “We are leaving with a heavy handicap,” jokes Jean-Pierre Dardenne during an interview with AFP.

For a film, “Cannes can be an amplifier or a Terminator”, explains Jean-Pierre Dardenne, emphasizing that a bad reception by journalists can be fatal. “Hoping that this is not the Terminator version that we are going to live, Cannes can only be good for the film”, he adds.

For this new opus which offers an eighth selection to these veterans of the Croisette, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (born in 1951 and 1954) shot with very young non-professional actors. “It’s a great pleasure to discover for the first time a face that has never been filmed, to see it live on screen. The 12 and a half year old boy and the 13 and a half year old girl were great. We don’t direct very young teenagers, we have to create a climate around them so that they feel what we are looking for. They have this extraordinary sensitivity,” confides Luc Dardenne.

Without revealing anything about the film which deals with the Islamist radicalization of a teenager, Jean-Pierre Dardenne is content to say: “We don’t make a film on a theme, we make a film on characters, we tell the story of ‘a kid”.

On the controversial subject of the participation of films produced by Netflix in festivals, the Dardenne brothers believe that Cannes can carry out this negotiation. “Berlin (La Berlinale) does not have the weight, Venice does not have the weight to negotiate that”, estimates Luc Dardenne. After the 2017 edition where Netflix had presented two films in competition on the Croisette, Cannes imposed the obligation to be released in theaters to be in competition. For its part, the Venice Film Festival gave its Golden Lion in 2018 to Rome distributed by the American platform.

“The Cannes Film Festival may be a time when Netflix issues come to the fore most acutely. The filmmakers produced by Netflix and who want to come to Cannes will also put pressure on Netflix. French laws will no doubt have to change. We will have to find other windows, another chronology, ”said Luc Dardenne.

“American filmmakers want to show their film in Cannes. Cannes is a myth for them. With the arrival of Disney (which is going to launch its own streaming site, editor’s note) and other major platforms, Nexflix will have to think seriously,” adds the filmmaker, in favor of a three-month release in theaters before “everything other type of dissemination.

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Cannes 2019: the Dardenne brothers aim for a third Palme d’Or