Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne: “For a small country, three films in official competition is great”

Great regulars at the Cannes Film Festival, the Dardenne brothers are for the ninth time in official competition with “Tori and Lokita”, their new film. And, extraordinarily, two other Belgian films will also try to win the Palme d’Or. Interview.

The Dardennes, this edition, will form a kind of Belgian team with Lukas Dhont who will present “Close” (in which Émilie Dequenne plays) and with the couple Charlotte Vandermeersch-Félix Van Groeningen for “Le Otto Montagne”. Whatever the prize list, it will remain a historical fact in the history of Belgian cinema.

You have a real history with the Cannes Film Festival since, since 1999 and “Rosetta”, all your films have always been selected.

Jean-Pierre Dardenne: Yes, and even before “Rosetta”, with “La Promise” at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. It was this film that put our cinema on the international stage. And then, “Rosetta”, the Palme d’Or. So, each time, it was a great encounter with the Festival.

Does it still surprise you to be selected? Humanly and professionally, how do you live it?

Luc Dardenne: Normally, we always pay to be there. And there, we had to pay a lot more because it’s the ninth time (laughs). We know that some directors have presented their films at Cannes and have not always been taken up. So it’s not a certainty.



“We are always a little worried about whether Thierry Frémaux and his team of selectors will choose our film. And each time, we are very happy that they took it.”

We are still a little worried about whether Thierry Frémaux and his team of selectors will choose our film. And each time, we are very happy that they took it. And the concern only increases until the screening of the film, which will be the first public screening. One wonders how it will be received by the public, journalists, exhibitors, everyone in the profession. The session will be the most cinematic. And then, the concern is reborn with the exit of film, in September. We are never quiet.

Could you consider presenting your films at another festival such as Berlin or Venice?



“It seems to us that Cannes is the most important, even today. For us, it is a first choice.”

JDP: It would be a bit stupid to say no, but we have presented them each time at Cannes, because it seems to us that Cannes is the most important, even today. For us, it is a first choice. And as our films are finished in January, there is still time to present them to the selection. The chronology of time leads us to present them at Cannes and it happens thatit remains the most important festival. With the largest market.

This year, the Festival will be chaired by Vincent Lindon. In your opinion, is the personality of the president decisive as to the choices made by the jury?



“When Quentin Tarantino, in 2004, awarded the Palme d’or to Michael Moore’s documentary, ‘Farenheit 9/11’, it was a gesture as much political as artistic.”

LD: We were never on the jury. Me, I don’t know how it happens. I suppose that a president has the capacity to direct the choices but each one has his independence in a jury. When Quentin Tarantino, in 2004, awarded the Palme d’or to Michael Moore’s documentary, “Farenheit 9/11”, it was a gesture as much political as artistic. So it depends on the circumstances. Today, if a film has to do with war, the jury cannot miss it.

In Cannes, are your days like a marathon?

JDP: Marathon, let’s not exaggerate. But yes, we work, that’s why we’re here. And if we don’t work, it’s a bad sign, it means that the film hasn’t aroused interest. Our stays are short and busy with meetings with the press.

Is there an effect at Cannes on the career of your films?



“When we didn’t get a prize with Marion Cotillard, for ‘Two Days, One Night’ or with Adèle Haenel, for ‘The Unknown Girl’, people say ‘Ah, they didn’t get a prize so, It’s not good!’.”

LD: Of course, the fame of a film is brought by a possible prize at the Festival. But it kinda backfired on us when we did not have a price with Marion Cotillard, for “Two days, one night” or with Adèle Haenel, for “The unknown girl”. People then say, “Ah, they didn’t get a prize so that’s not good! “. A film that receives a good response at Cannes and figures prominently in the press counts. This plays on the national career as on the international career.

This year, exceptionally, three Belgian films are in official competition. Most of the time it was just you!

LD: Fortunately, we do not spend the same day.



“In Belgium, there are economic and artistic supports that allow people to work and make films selected at Cannes.”

JPD: This means that there are talented French-speaking and Dutch-speaking filmmakers in Belgium and that on both sides of the linguistic border, cinema is supported. There are economic and artistic supports that allow people to work and make films selected at Cannes. For a small country, that’s great. I think the Romanians once had two in official competition. With us, the films are co-produced by the two communities. Without it, we would not achieve this result.

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Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne: “For a small country, three films in official competition is great”