Luc Besson is reborn at the Deauville American Film Festival

By Lise Tavelet

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The film DogManby director Luc Besson, is competing for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS

The 64-year-old French filmmaker won over Norman audiences with his nineteenth feature film DogMan. The director took the opportunity to deliver a mastercl on Sunday.

From our journalist in Deauville

From boos to cheers. After a return of green wood from the critics appalled by his drama DogManscreened in competition at the Venice Film Festival, Luc Besson was welcomed as the prodigal son at the 49th Deauville American Film Festival. During the Saturday screening of his fable about a young man bereft of love and his legs but driven by his love for his dogs and revenge, the 64-year-old director received an extended ovation. This same enthusiasm was found the following day, Sunday. His mastercl was sold out. Does the large number of canine representatives in the very chic Normandy seaside resort have something to do with it?

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Talk “only” about the cinema

A comeback for the man who was cleared by the courts of the charges against him and who until then had maintained total media and cinematographic silence. On the program of this “conversation with Luc Besson”: cinema, more cinema and nothing but cinema – the host Stéphane Charbit specifies this from the start of the hour and a half interview.

Confident, the filmmaker does not hesitate to tackle with a “Noabrupt questions from his moderator when he draws the wrong conclusions about his filmography by looking for parallels with other directors. Luc Besson deciphers his creative process. “I don’twrite that between 4:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.“, he explains. “And with each script, I listen to an album on repeat. I cannot write without music. For DogManit was… with the green hair… Billie Eilish !he exclaims.

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Luc Besson also mentions in his “very lonely childhood in Greece» and on his «want to escape, starting from nothing», his first short film «burnedout of frustration. His first cinematic slap? The jungle Book. “I dreamed of myself as Mowgli“, he ures under the contained laughter of the public. “I slept on the floor, I no longer spoke to my mother and I hoped to be raised by a panther and a bear“. And to add with emotion, referring to Forrest Gump: “The strength of cinema is the characters who, more than the films, are part of your life“.

“The worst is those who don’t come to see the film”

Over the anecdotes, the director of Nikita And Leonwhich insists, again and again, on its absence of “cinematic rootsexplores two pillars of his work: madness and suffering. Two recurring themes found in DogMan. “We share more easily the evil, the suffering with the others“says Besson. “People are not bound by happiness. But in DogMan, there is no desire for revenge. On the contrary, I rather see a Cerberus side: he keeps his hell to himself.»

Welcoming the involvement of its main actor, Besson details the intensive preparation of Caleb Landry Jones (interpretation prize at Cannes for Nitram in 2021). Six months long, it made him lose twenty kilos. “When you finish a film, you hope people will like it.“, he declares after having once again thanked the public for having gone to the screening of the day before. “There are always those who don’t like them, those who like them a lot and the worst is those who don’t come. That’s what makes me very sad, that they don’t want to see it.»

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More than a conversation, Luc Besson delivers a love letter to the seventh art. After the warm applause of the 300 people who came, several of them lined up, with devotion, to ask for autographs or advice. Hard to believe at this moment that the director of Nikita was however persona non grata in the middle for four years, and that ten minutes before the start of his lecture, security personnel were on their guard after having intercepted a Swiss army knife at the bottom of a bag. Between mistrust and renewed interest in him, the director of Big Blue is determined to win back the public.

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