Cédric Klapisch • Creator and director of Greek Salad
“Listening to what young Swedes, Croatians or Greeks thought of Europe today brought a whole new layer to what we decided to recount”
- The French director has opened the Series Mania Festival with a show serving as a sequel to the hit movie trilogy that he started back in 2003 with Pot Luck
Still helmed by director Cédric Klapisch, the Amazon Prime series Greek Salad [+see also:
interview: Cédric Klapisch
series profile] shares a solid chunk of DNA with its source material, Pot Luck, with numerous nods made to the hit 2003 comedy, and with both Romain Duris and Kelly Reilly back to pass on the baton to a younger cast. Still, the show was firmly designed to stand on its own two feet. With his series opening the 13th edition of the Series Mania Festival in Lille, Klapisch explained how he worked with a group of (much) younger writers in order to capture their generation's more militant take on European identity.
Cineuropa: What should fans of the movie trilogy expect from this new show?
Cédric Klapisch: I wanted the people who loved the three films to see something else. I agreed to extend the story of Pot Luck, The Russian Dolls [+see also:
film profile] and Chinese Puzzle [+see also:
film profile] in order to draw a new portrait of European youth – the same way we did it with the first film more than 20 years ago. This implied finding a whole new cast of young European actors, and a group of much younger screenwriters who were all under 30 when we started working on it four years ago.
Was the show commissioned, or did you initiate it by yourself?
It wasn't me. The idea came from an English producer who had felt the shock of Brexit and thought it was necessary to know what the new generation felt about Europe. I liked the political dimension of his suggestion, and the show is definitely more political than the films, but I didn't want to reboot Pot Luck. I thought it would work better as a sequel focusing on the children of Romain Duris’s character.
One character states, “This is not the Europe our parents knew.” How has Europe changed in 20 years?
So many things have changed in Europe since 2003. Pot Luck was made in Barcelona the year before the euro was introduced in the European Union. I mean, we still had francs and pesetas on our budget sheets! More generally, Europe was still riding a euphoric and carefree impulse at the time. It felt like a more exciting idea. That exhilaration has faded since then, with the 2008 crisis, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, COVID-19 and the rise of populistic leaders. All of this shows the fragility of the European idea and projects a new image onto the younger generation, which to me feels more militant. They're more conscious of the problems we are facing as a society.
You mention how militant the new generation is, but the two main protagonists’ view on Europe, and life in general, couldn’t be more different.
Of course, and we needed that strong conflict to carry the story through eight episodes, rather than one film. In the second episode, there's a direct comparison between the open-borders vision of Mia's activist circle and Giulia's legal argument for strong border control, bringing the viewer back to Tom's view of the world. And I believe this binary divide is pretty representative of young European citizens.
Youth has been a central theme of your work as a filmmaker ever since Le Péril jeune. How do you avoid a disconnect now that you're over 60?
I'm very much aware that I'm no longer part of the young generation, and working with five much younger screenwriters fuelled my creativity. I also think the casting process helped. We asked several casting directors across Europe to help us. The simple act of listening to what young Swedes, Croatians or Greeks thought of Europe today brought a whole new layer to what we decided to recount.
Why did you choose to set the story in Athens?
It was a collective decision that emerged from the conversations we had with the five young screenwriters who came on board. We knew we didn't want to go back to Barcelona, and we thought of Berlin at one point. But in their eyes, Athens could crystallise many current political themes, such as the refugee crisis, for instance. And Greece as a whole symbolised the dysfunctions of the European Union from the past 20 years.
The show also feels more international than French, compared to the films. Is that by design?
In a way, yes. Back when we produced Pot Luck, we were told by Canal+ not to exceed a proportion of 50% non-French dialogue. We still had characters speaking English and Catalan, but Greek Salad pushes this much further, with Syrian, Greek, Croatian and Italian conversations. It feels much better blended and deliberately non-French because we are talking about the borders of the European Union. Working with Amazon Prime Video also allowed us to think and create with a fully fledged international vision.
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