Verdun. For filmmaker Costa Gavras, “Verdun is a very good example of Europe”

Is this the first time you have come to Verdun?

“No, I have already been to Verdun several years ago. I mostly visited the forest and it was overwhelming. With the desire to return to spend time there. And there, I seized the opportunity to visit the Memorial, a somewhat brief moment, and it was very emotional. The museum goes a long way, not only in terms of presentation, but also in terms of reflection. We enter into the drama, into the psychology. We enter into tragedy. And we feel it much better than in the movies. We saw the smallest detail, up to the big one. There are things here that we have never done in the cinema. »

As a filmmaker, what upsets you here?

“What touches me are the little things. The way people lived during the Great War. Someone who was making stuff for his family, his little girl and all of a sudden he died and his family had to live with that. It is deeply touching. And here, we know that it happened like that. These are real pictures. It was them, it wasn’t actors. It’s not people who made the sets. »

The war is representable, we have done beautiful things in the cinema

These are not things you see in the cinema, but is it representable? In the end, aren’t the atrocities of a war in the realm of the unrepresentable?

“No, the war is representable, we have done great things in the cinema. But you have to synthesize. We cannot go into the real psychology of each other. We have often made films on the side of the winner or the loser. There, here, we have both. In this face-to-face and it’s very surprising. It is emotion and almost intellectual reflection. In the cinema, we are first taken by emotion and only afterwards, we continue with reflection. And it’s a real battle inside someone. We must spare both, not that one prevails over the other. Because the two exist together. And we find it here, and that’s what is upsetting! »

To come back to your work as a filmmaker and the films that will be screened during the festival, whether Z , Confession Where Adults in the room already, would you define yourself as a committed or militant filmmaker?

“No, neither one nor the other. Activist, that makes sense. We follow an idea completely and we can be blinded. No, we’re performing. And the show tells something. We try to convey our emotions. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t succeed at all. As far as I am concerned, I make films with what touches me. I haven’t done a lot. But sometimes, I took two years, three years so this emotion had to be strong. That’s not the truth. We don’t go to the cinema like we go to university. We go there to have emotions and that’s the difference. But without manipulation! »

I maintain that emotion is very important even if we do not always succeed

But even so, for Z you worked directly on the screenplay with Jorge Semprún but also with the composer Mikis Theodorakis who were both communist militants…

“Yes, but Mikis, he didn’t work much because he was in prison. [il sourit]. I had someone contact him and he replied “take my music, do what you want” on a sheet of cigarette paper! With Semprún, it’s different. He had quit the Communist Party with a bang and we had a philosophical and cinematographic relationship and, it was sincere. For Z , he had a very emotional approach. And I maintain that emotion is very important even if we don’t always succeed. »

your latest movie Adults in the room is based on the writings of Yanis Varoufakis…

” [Il coupe]. Absolutely, I thought it was a very difficult film for the audience, but I told myself that it had to be done. Behind this European facade, the euphoria, there was the truth. And it is always there this monstrous truth for the Greeks. This famous debt… You have to have deep conviction to make a film like this. Especially since it didn’t make a million admissions…”

How do you view Europe today?

“Verdun is a very good example of Europe. A terrifying human example, with a lot of hope. We go from atrocity to hope when two presidents shook hands. That’s the idea of ​​Europe too. It’s being together as much as possible to do things well. Well, it doesn’t always work and Mr Putin has a different opinion. But, I think it will strengthen Europe. We will come out a winner, because these horrors will lead to another vision of Europe, of this union which is tottering for the moment and which is heading in all directions. »

Many professionals deplore that cinemas are empty? Does the current cinema lack good films?

“No, there are a lot of good films. Perhaps we make too many films in France and as we make a lot of them, there are some that are less good. But we are experiencing an unprecedented situation with the platforms. With deeply negative aspects but also positive aspects. People who can’t afford to go to the cinema can see films and not for very much. To go to the cinema today, you need a little money. But this platform problem is one of the most serious in cinema. He will have to reinvent his economy. »

With a small subject, you can hold the viewer for an hour or two

Are you still going to the cinema today?

“The last film I saw is a very simple, but very beautiful work, the innocent. With a small subject, you can hold the viewer for an hour or two. Quite simply. But others haven’t made a good impression on me lately, but I won’t name them. [rires] ! »

Is there a film you would like to make?

“There are several films that I would like to make [Il rit]. There were films I dreamed of making but perhaps I didn’t work hard enough to make them… But today, I’m happy with all the films I’ve made. Succeeded or failed, I’m not ashamed of it. Every movie is an adventure. »

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Verdun. For filmmaker Costa Gavras, “Verdun is a very good example of Europe”