Bruno Dumont • Director
"At the heat of the spectator"
by Camillo de Marco
- An interview with the provocative French director Bruno Dumont who brought his latest film, Flandres, to the Cannes Film Festival competition Grand Prix of the Jury
Cineuropa: Why did you choose to tell a story about two country kids from Flanders?
Bruno Dumont: I was only interested in describing a story with images and sounds. Flanders is my birthplace. It is visceral, sensitive irrational. I need the land in order to film human beings. In being filmed, Flanders gives back an aspect of human existence. I need a story because stories are the natural movement of our lives, that which connects us to one another.
War erupts into your film, like a central element that influences destinies and souls.
In the film, war is the expression of the mourning of our desires. I was interested, above all, in the very sense of war. I wasn’t interested in the war in Iraq specifically. I wanted to show that which television does not know to show about war. The filmmaker’s job is to regenerate war’s role. I do not claim to have made a closed, finished argument. My film is unfinished, it ends there where the spectator begins. I like aiming at the heart of spectator, even though the things I need to show are harsh. We must pass through the darkness to see the light.
You often show harsh things...
I’m accused of making overly crude sex scenes, whereas my vision is very demure. There is something tragic about two bodies uniting, and the impossibility of becoming one, which reveals great loneliness. In regards to the violence in this film, I thought just hints of it were enough. The violence of silence is enough.
You used two magnificent non-actors in the film.
I chose them for how similar they were to the characters in the story. I didn’t have them read the screenplay but I worked on their inner life, in such a way that they expressed a part of themselves when they were acting. They are at the heart of the film, depending on what they give, I complete the story, making some adjustments.
Your budget was higher than usual, yet nevertheless still relatively low. Was it enough for expressing your story?
It’s good for me to work with very little. If I had a lot money, I wouldn’t know how to make a film.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.