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Q&A: Jacques Audiard • Director

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"Now he’s fighting for the ones he loves"


- CANNES 2015: Jacques Audiard explains his new film, Dheepan

Q&A: Jacques Audiard  • Director

Jacques Audiard explained the nuances of the cinematographic approach to his new opus, Dheepan [+see also:
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, being shown in competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, to the international press 

What was the starting point for Dheepan?
Jacques Audiard: it’s a project that had been in the pipeline for a long time, since I finished working on A Prophet [+see also:
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. It had faded into the background a bit until my fellow screenwriters Noé Debré and Thomas Bidegain brought it back to the fore. To begin with, we even thought we would do a remake of Chiens de paille, although it no longer resembles that at all in its finished version. It was more me that wanted to do a love story. Initially, we had the idea of using genre as a Trojan horse, and it’s like that but with a slightly darker core. But using genre gave us a “vigilante” film, a rather stupid and reactionary genre. So very quickly, we re-centred the screenplay around the couple and love. Then, then there was this concept from Persian Letters by Montesquieu: what is a Persian? Making a French film, in France, in which the characters speak in Tamil, was a project that seemed insane at the outset. I just took foreign actors and pushed things as far as I could. With this project, I sensed that the process would require freedom of creation and production. And the screenplay evolved a lot during filming. I do this quite regularly, but with a film like Rust & Bone [+see also:
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for example, improvisation didn’t work. In that case, 90% of what I shot according to the screenplay is in the film. 

(The article continues below - Commercial information)Cine Iberoamericano Int

The film is about a fake family that leaves a situation of violence, war, only to find themselves in another, more urban one. Nonetheless, you’re very elusive about these two types of violence. Why?
This is something that evolved over the course of the film’s development. Originally, Dheepan was more of a righter of wrongs, but I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to make a documentary on the civil war in Sri Lanka, or a documentary on a community, but to view these events and situations as a form of wallpaper that is part of the set without you actually having to describe it. In fact, I can’t really describe them. So I told myself that I would omit a lot of details. I was more interested in trying to find a way of making these events and situations a part of the characters. 

Even though the film centres around a love story, violence is still one of your favoured topics
I never understand why. Do you really think it’s violent? I simply literally used the notion of dramatic conflict to heighten the emotion. What is a fake family with a completely invented past which, in the end, becomes a real family? Originally, Dheepan fought for political reasons, now he’s fighting for the ones he loves. Ok the word "fight" still appears, but because we’re talking about something he must conquer, something that is never handed to him on a plate.

What were your intentions on the formal plane?
Initially, I had to commit myself to a certain approach to the image and the light, but I had to adapt this during filming. Certain formal effects didn’t work for the film. Everything that had been carefully thought-out beforehand didn’t work when it came to filming, with the steadycam, framing the interior scenes… So the film is actually quite modest in this respect, but there are cinematic elements at play, placing small heroes front and centre. Moreover, I had to change direction with the photography and the music as when you spend too long working with the same team, people know what you want too well.

(Translated from French)


international title: Dheepan
original title: Dheepan
country: France
sales agent: Celluloid Dreams, Wild Bunch
year: 2015
directed by: Jacques Audiard
screenplay: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
cast: Vincent Rottiers, Marc Zinga, Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby

main awards/selection

Cannes Film Festival 2015Competition
Palme d'Or
Vienna International Film Festival 2015 

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