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Last Updated 09.04.2020 | 10:19 AM IST



“Marion Cottilard was to do my film Le Ventre De Juliette” – Martin Provost

Martin Provost

Martin Provost

It's not only an honour to meet these acclaimed award winning directors from around the globe at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to know their passion for cinema up close and personal. On my first look at the French director Martin Provost, he looked like one of those character actors who have aged but still going super strong. Five minutes into our conversation and I get to know that he started his career in films as an actor. He is wearing a cotton trouser with a white tee. His salt and pepper hair and his horn-rimmed glasses compliment his attire. For a filmmaker in the middle of the frenzy of a festival visit in India in which his film, The Long Falling is the hottest ticket, he looks pretty cool. That's not it. His most accomplished work two years ago - Seraphine won him seven Cesar Awards in the Best screenplay, costume, score, cinematography, set design, picture and actress. That puts him in the league of maximum Cesar Award winners such as Roman Polanski, Alain Resnais, Alain Corneau and Louis Malle. The director is once again using his lucky charm, his actress Yolande Moreau (Amelie, Gainsbourg, Seraphine) in the lead role in his next outing. To talk to Audiard is to soar over numerous topics. His erudition and mastery of his art form give him the confidence to play games, to show off slightly, on screen and off. It's what makes him cooler than most directors I've met from the overseas - he's not worried if you'll like his movie, because he knows it's bloody good and, anyway, he likes it himself, which is enough. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent continues his 'Director's Cut' special with Martin Provost at the 13th Mumbai Film Festival.

"I'm not shocked or surprised to see my film The Long Falling screened at the Mumbai Film Festival"
I'm not shocked or surprised to see my film The Long Falling screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. I've attended so many festivals across the globe. So why is this one special? Actually, I have come to India for the first time and that's what is special. There are lots of things I want to do while I am in Mumbai for a week. I want to roam on the streets and see the people. I want to interact with them.

Martin Provost

"You can't compare me with Roman Polanski"
I have won Seven Cesar Awards for my last film Seraphine and I am honoured. I don't know what to do with these many awards (laughs). But more than awards, I like when my audience appreciates cinema. I really don't want to be compared with any other filmmaker. Roman Polanski and the many others have also won the Cesar Awards for their films. I'm just the new addition in the line up and in the future if I get to screen my film at the Cannes Film Festival, it'll be an honour. If not, I won't cry (laughs).

"It's my acting that helped me get into direction"
I started my career as an actor but I was never satisfied. I mean, when I was up on stage I wanted to be down and tell the actors what to do. That's what I wanted to do. When you act, you know how to direct. I didn't learn how to make movies by going to any film school. I learnt it myself on stage, backstage, everywhere. It's my acting that helped me get into direction (laughs).

"We should never forget who Satyajit Ray was"
I don't know any Indian actor or director. All I have heard of and have seen is the work of India's great Satyajit Ray. I haven't seen his movie Pathar Panchali but have seen Le Salon De Music (Jalsaghar). He is a very important filmmaker, an inspiration to the many aspiring and current directors and actors. We should never forget who Satyajit Ray was. I am looking forward to interact with the Indian directors to learn what they think about movies.

"After Seraphine, I did get offers to direct American movies but I declined them"
I am not looking to direct Hollywood movies as of now. After Seraphine, I did get a lot of offers to direct some American movies but I declined. I couldn't do that. It's not at all my dream.

"Marion Cottilard was to do my film Le Ventre De Juliette but things didn't work out"
I know Marion Cottilard. Before Seraphine, I had made another movie titled Le Ventre De Juliette in 2003. At the beginning she would've done it but because things didn't work out, she opted not to be a part of it. Actually, she wasn't even famous back then in Hollywood. But yes, if something works out in the future then I will work with her again.

Martin Provost

"In France, we follow our tradition: a tradition to tell thought-provoking stories"
I have to disagree that people have lost the essence of storytelling. Yes, it is important because a story is the heart of the movie. So many wonderful movies have released in France each year and we maintain our tradition: a tradition to tell thought-provoking stories. We take a lot of time to tell our stories. We spend years to write and that's why we get the recognition.

"My next movie is on a female writer from France"
Even though France is known for its football, I don't like the sport. I mean, I don't follow it religiously. There's also one thing you should know - I will never make a sports film (laughs). I am doing another movie next year on a woman writer. I worked for three years on this script. It's about creation and the relationship between our own feminity.

"When I write, I think of a certain actress or an actor who will play that part"
I don't have any favourite actor or actress. It's not how I look at it. They are here to do their job and they do it because they are good at it. When I write, I think of a certain actress or an actor who will play that part. I then go to that actor and narrate my story. I like to connect with the actor with whom I've interacted before. You can just see them doing the part you're writing.

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