“Shooting movies for me is a great pleasure”
by Alfonso Rivera
- French director François Ozon returns with The New Girlfriend, a brilliant movie about identity, new families and freedom
French director François Ozon returns to the San Sebastian International Film Festival following his Golden Shell for In the House [+see also:
film profile] in 2012, with The New Girlfriend [+see also:
interview: François Ozon
film profile], a brilliant movie about identity, new families and freedom, starring Romain Duris and Anaïs Demoustier.
Cineuropa: Each of your new movies is different: you constantly change genre and style in your career.
François Ozon: I try not to repeat myself, to experience new things and to go in different directions. Shooting a movie for me is a great pleasure. I have director friends who suffer doing it; I, don’t. I think what I least enjoy is promotion. I really like writing the scripts, preparing for filming, working with the actors and editing: for me it’s like a game, not a job.
Although it could be defined as a comedy or, even, a melodrama, I think that The New Girlfriend is more of a fairytale...
Exactly! That’s what it is for me: the idealization of a difficult situation, because, obviously, the life of characters like these is not as simple as it appears in the film; it was important that the film would have a happy ending, since the story is complex and the socio-political situation in France is very severe when it comes to gay marriage.
Is it still necessary to insist on that defence?
Yes, because society wants to deny that fact, therefore we must show these new families, so that they are accepted. I think that in times of crisis we tend to go back to conservative values, because people are afraid of freedom: they want to know clearly what a man or a woman is, what’s black or white... but they realise that everything is possible; that you can freely be whatever you want to be and that scares people.
The colours are intense and everything is beautiful in your cinema: the actors, the clothes, the houses...
I think it’s related to desire. When you go to the cinema, you want to fall in love and to see beautiful things. So for me it’s important to try to film with good-looking actors, but it depends on the story: at some points in my movies, the characters can also become unpleasant. But I want to entertain the audiences with light films, I don’t want to bore them with a story that only a few will see in a film library.
What has the reaction to The New Girlfriend been like in Toronto and now in San Sebastian, where it was shown for the first time in Europe?
The welcome has been warmer here; over there people were more shocked. Here people are more open-minded and I think that Europeans will better understand my movie, because it’s warped, it changes direction and it plays with different genres, whereas America movies are usually clearly defined: a comedy, a drama or an action-movie. When you play a lot with the audience and with genre, it confuses them, because over there cinema is just an industry, a product, with clearly defined marketing. And when you make a transgender movie like this one, they don’t know what to think. I think that in Spain the audience will really understand it because they have the cinema tradition of Buñuel and, of course, of Almodóvar, who I love: he’s one of my favourite directors; I love his experiments and I share his fascination with American melodramas from the forties and fifties starring women.
(Translated from Spanish)