Hazanavicius’s amour for American cinema

The Artist director heads up Deauville jury

by Richard Mowe

Deauville jury president Michel Hazanavicius: 'I’m a big fan of the ‘rebel’ cinema from the 1950s'
Deauville jury president Michel Hazanavicius: 'I’m a big fan of the ‘rebel’ cinema from the 1950s' Photo: Richard Mowe

With his affectionate homage to silent cinema The Artist as a reference there is no surprise that director Michel Hazanavicius should be a confirmed admirer of American cinema.

He said: “The period between 1921 and 1927 provided many masterpieces but the thrillers from the Thirties are amazing, the Westerns from the Forties gave the movies a whole new strand while I’m a big fan of the ‘rebel’ cinema from the 1950s.

“The big strength of American cinema is the fact that over the decades the blockbusters have always been accompanied by a strong independent sector - B movies or even Z movies.”

Who better then than Hazanavicius to head up as president the jury at the 43rd edition of Deauville’s Festival of American Cinema which opened last night with a screening of Doug Liman’s American Made starring Tom Cruise but without the star present. He has graced Deauville in person in the past?

Michel Hazanavicius and Berenice Béjo greet the crowds at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema
Michel Hazanavicius and Berenice Béjo greet the crowds at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema Photo: Richard Mowe
Hazanavicius who was on the red carpet last night with his fellow jurors, among them actresses Emmanuelle Devos, Charlotte Le Bon, and director Alice Winocour as well as his partner Berenice Béjo, will concentrate on the films in the American independent strand, delivering the prizewinners at the closing ceremony a week today.

After the five Oscars given to The Artist, has Hazanavicius ever been tempted to work in the States?

“Several American producers have contacted me and suggested scripts, or books to adapt or even were prepared to give me free rein. I had other projects in hand such as The Search and Redoubtable so was not available. If the right American film came along I would be more than happy to give it a try,” he said.

Hazanavicius began working with the comedy group Les Nuls in 1988. He gained experience as a writer of sketches and also showed his skills in writing for radio.

He made his early mark by embarking on publicity films and worked on several TV programmes. His first feature was Mes amis (Friends) in 2004 with the main role being taken by his brother Serge. He garnered major attention for his two James Bond-style spoofs OSS 117 which also propelled the career of actor Jean Dujardin.

Asked for his favourite American films of the moment, Hazanavicius cites La La Land, Manchester By The Sea, War For The Planet Of The Apes and Cars 3 as particularly impressive for all sorts of different reasons. He suggests that part of his attraction for US cinema stems from the fact that “it is not always politically correct".

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