Avant-garde film fes­ti­val hosts trib­ute to bo­hemian Leos Carax

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY EMIL­IOS HARBIS

Leos Carax is the most bo­hemian guy I’ve ever met: el­e­gantly shoddy in a worn leather jacket and a beat-up leather hat, chain-smoking as he chats with jour­nal­ists in the court­yard of the French In­sti­tute in Athens. Speak­ing in low tones, he de­scribes cin­ema as a lonely is­land, at the cen­ter of which is a huge, beau­ti­ful ceme­tery con­tain­ing the re­mains of all of its cre­ators.

Once an en­fant ter­ri­ble of the French cin­ema, the 55-year-old di­rec­tor’s bold films are be­ing shown in a trib­ute to his work at the 8th Athens Avant-Garde Film Fes­ti­val, run­ning through Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 26, at the Greek Film Ar­chive (48 Iera Odos, Ker­ameikos, tel 210.360.9695).

“When I was a boy I wanted to be­come a mu­si­cian but I didn’t have the gift. I dis­cov­ered the sig­nif­i­cance of cin­ema when I was around 16 or 17, and by 24 I had seen a lot of films from what was then the en­tire body of cin­ema. At some point I de­cided it was no longer enough to watch the films of oth­ers, so I de­cided to make my own,” Carax said, adding that he has stopped watch­ing films and go­ing to fes­ti­vals for sev­eral years, pre­fer­ring to read and travel.

The process of mak­ing a film is hard and painful but nec­es­sary, said Carax. “I need the process of the shoot; the ma­chines, all the peo­ple. Some­times mak­ing a film can lead you to strange places, so it is bet­ter if you are not alone.”

Among th­ese peo­ple are his ac­tors and Carax ad­mits that he has al­ways forged a close re­la­tion­ship with his pro­tag­o­nists and even got ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with some, such as Juli­ette Binoche.

“I have never un­der­stood cast­ing. It’s such a vi­o­lent thing, almost racist,” he said. “I try to imag­ine the film based on the spe­cific peo­ple I have in mind but there were times had to make a cast­ing call.”

The con­cept of fear is key for Carax. “Fear is a huge is­sue. It’s ev­ery­where and al­ways ev­ery­thing in this world can be de­fined by it. Per­son­ally I don’t feel like a proper film­maker so ev­ery film I have done was with the fear that I would have to pre­tend to be one in or­der to solve some prac­ti­cal prob­lem or another,” he ex­plained. “This is prob­a­bly why I like to be pre­pared. I never im­pro­vise.”

Asked why he agreed to visit Greece to at­tend the film fes­ti­val even though he has opted to stay out of the lime­light for so many years, Carax sim­ply said, “You are screwed and it’s al­ways nice to be among peo­ple who are screwed.”

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