Cineuropa met with Radu Mihaileanu, the French director of Roumanian origin who has accepted to take the honorary presidency of the jury for the European Parliament’s 2012 LUX Prize.
In five feature films, he has become a figure appreciated by both audiences and professionals. He notably was president of the Writer Director Producer Civil Society (ARP) from 2009 to 2011. His filmography includes Trahir (the Montreal Film Festival’s Grand Prix des Amériques in 1993),Train of Life (unveiled in Venice in 1998, and the Audience Award at Sundance in 1999), Live and Become (at the 2005 Berlinale’s Panorama, 2006 César for Best Screenplay), The Concert [trailer, film focus] (2010 César for Best Soundtrack and Best Sound), and The Source (in competition at Cannes in 2011).
Why did you accept to become the Honorary President of the jury for the European Parliament’s 2012 LUX Prize?
Mostly for the values and the symbols. I am a European who is convinced by his itinerary. And because building Europe is something positive, even if Europe being somewhat shaken at the moment. It will also be the opportunity to see lots of European films, and therefore to learn.
From an artistic point of view, is European cinema still so very different from cinema in the rest of the world, in a context of globalisation in which Europe co-produces many films from other continents?
I really believe in European identity, but when we say European culture, it’s a great number of cultures, a very rich puzzle. But we are very different from Asian cinema, and especially American cinema. Then, there are certain bridges with South American cinema and a few, even if less, with African cinema. I still believe in European cinema’s special touch, but in this multitude of cultural expressions.
How can we improve the circulation of European films in Europe, where every country first and foremost defends its own home-grown cinema?
It’s crucial that each European country first develop a strong national cinema so that its artists can express themselves and that they can have an original point of view on their society and on the world. But, at the same time, the battle is for Europeans to see films from other European countries. Today, there are many mecanisms, and we defended several of them at the ARP, of which the MEDIA Programme which was very important to keep going. We have these battles, and talent bears its fruit. The Artist is a good example of a European film that the Americans would never have been able to produce. To improve the circulation of films, we could imagine a kind of quota, at least for national television channels in each European country, for them to broadcast more non-national European films. This would encourage cinema distributors to acquire rights to these films, because they need to somewhat contain their risk through a television sale in their country. The aim is diversity and forming European audiences who develop a taste for films beyond their own country.
At what stage are you in your next film project?
It will be a film in English that will be set partly in Los Angeles, but that will be 100% European, produced by Alain Attal for Les Films du Trésor, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam for Stone Angels, and by my own company Oï Oï Oï Productions. We are still writing the screenplay, and filming will not take place before 2013. I was a little fast, although I do not regret it, between The Concert and The Source. Now, I would rather take the time to write, to think, and to see what happens around.
Will you continue in the line of dramatic comedy?
I really like tragicomedies, to inspire myself from something quite dramatic, but life, thankfully, means that we cannot always be sad. Humour is a part of my personnality. Like many Roumanians under dictatorship, we didn’t have anything else. We were fed tragicomedy from birth. The more we were hit over the head, the more we defended ourselves with jokes. When the world goes wrong, when the boat sinks, you have to try to understand and talk about it, and my way of doing it is also to laugh about it.