April 2014. French Film Festival in Brazil

Nice little festival. Spivet had the second best score after Guillaume Galienne’s film. A visit to the Maracana with Jalil Lespert and Philippe Claudel.

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In Sao Paulo I saw the actress who played Amelie as a child. She is 19 years old now…

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Une fille tatouée “Amélie” me fait dédicacer son bras. Le soir même, elle se fait tatouer ma signature… Ça fait un peu peur…

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Lunch atop a “pacified” Favella. The bikes have a sort of radio antenna on the front fender. I’m told that since it is more difficult to obtain weapons now, people kill their enemies by stringing a rope across the road. So the antenna brings down the bike, which is, of course, better than being beheaded…

April 2014. Master class in Brussels


The Fantasy Film Festival of Brussels (BIFF) reminded me of the Grand Rex festival in the 80’s, when projections took place in the theatre. The audience in the balcony threw sacks of flour on the people in the orchestra seats … I was cheered on stage but refused to sing. Those lucky Belgians don’t know how lucky they are…

February 2014. The César


I can’t really complain about professional recognition of my work. All of my french movies, without exception, have had at least 3 nominations. In total I have had 49 nominations, and have won 17, including 6 personally. TS Spivet won the Cesar for photography, which recognizes not only Thomas Hardmeier, but also the entire team for their cinematography and 3D work.

October 2014. The Zurich Film Festival

(Where Polanski was arrested). The festival proposed hosting a tribute to my work. They would give me a sort of “Lifetime Achievement Award” and project all of my films. Having had no news from them, I saw on the Internet that Haneke would be honored instead. Having been informed of what was going on, Harvey Weinstein had banned the screening of Spivet. So the festival changed their mind. And Weinstein was be there to… give a master class!

When Harvey Weinstein…

… signed TS Spivet for the United States, he had seen the finished film. And Gaumont had made it clear that since I had the final cut, I would not change even the smallest detail. A fact that didn’t stop him from trying to bully his way into redoing the film in his own way. As he always does with films.

He had already tried to do so in 1991 with Delicatessen. An English editor came to me with a list of all suggested cuts. He was going to remove the scene with the creaking bed, Ms. Interligator’s suicide… in short, all the funniest scenes. Caro and I patiently listened and then suggested one more cut: “removing our names from the credits”. The editor left shaking his finger at us, “You haven’t heard the last from Harvey Weinstein!” After that I expected to find my dog’s head on my bed one morning … Finally, having not yet signed with UGC, the film was released without the cuts, in spite of Mr Weinstein…and would eventually become a cult film. 10 years later the same thing happened with Amelie. We had five Oscar nominations. But we were out of luck. That was the year that the Academy, tired of Weinstein’s vote-collecting “abuse”, decided to boycott his films. “We will not vote for Amélie”, wrote the American industry magazines. Whoopy Goldberg, president of the ceremony, spent the entire ceremony making fun of Weinstein. The result being, out of 19 nominations, he won only one Oscar.

Weinstein is like a gallery owner that says to a painter: “Americans don’t like green, so I’ll ask the framer to use blue” … Weinstein is actually all about power. Like a dog marking a tree, he MUST change all the movies he buys.

In addition, he forced a “holdback” on Gaumont, which meant that no non-Francophone country could release the film before him. So Spivet remained blocked for 8 months. As the holdback ended in June, in some countries, like England or Spain, it was released in the middle of the World Cup. Flop.

Jean-Pierre Lelong has passed without a sound

In 1987, Michael Cimino was editing his film The Sicilian, and his American sound editors were having a hell of a time adding the sound of the trampling of panicked horses. Too much confusion, too much dust, too many hooves; impossible to properly synchronize the sound with the images.

So, without saying anything to the director, the French film editor, Françoise Bonnot, took the sequence to Paris, and showed it to Jean Pierre Lelong, the awesome sound effects engineer.

In two or three movements, Lelong, assisted by his faithful Mario, much as Terry Gilliam in The Quest for the Holy Grail maybe didn’t clap together coconuts , but took out a few unlikely instruments out of his surreal bags…

Cimino was so impressed that he gave all the film’s sound effects work to Jean-Pierre.

To get an idea of Lelong’s extraordinary work, take a look at this short clip from the making of A Very Long Engagement.

In the 60’s and 70’s there was no such thing as a “sound designer” equipped with computers. It was the sound effects engineer, in his studio, that did everything that hadn’t been captured on the spot, or which needed to be redone to be played over foreign language dialogues.

But where Jean-Pierre Lelong was a pure genius is that his work resembled a number from Cirque du Soleil. Indeed, not only did he recreate sounds and totally realistic noises with objects that have nothing to do with the sounds, but he had the unique distinction of directly syncing them perfectly.

He looked once or twice at the image, spotted the location of the sound to be made using the numbers running under the image, and he was off.

It was rare that he had to do anything twice. He crushed crates to smash a pontoon for The City of Lost Children, twisted the wheels of a salvaged supermarket trolley to make the swing squeak in Amelie, threw nuts and bolts on drumheads for the pills Ms. Interligator spat out in Delicatessen, and waltzed with a dancer’s step on the studio’s wooden floors, wearing his old rotten shoes, that even Charlie Chaplin would snub … to bring a subtlety, as if by magic, to lame Matilda running through the grass.

And all that perfectly synchronized to a 24th of a second!

It was quite a sight to see. But about noon, when hunger set in, it was not a stomach growling that you heard, but this colourful guy glaring at you and pronouncing “Stomach!”

Jean-Pierre worked on all my movies. The last few years were less happy, because technical advancements had made his genius of syncing a little obsolete. But he worked all his life for the masters. He even won an Oscar and worked on several James Bond films, always with the same sense of perfectionism.

His last film was TS Spivet and I’m proud to have stayed loyal to him.

Micmacs à Londres…

Depuis la sortie de Micmacs, j’ai commencé la promotion internationale, le film sortant dans le monde entier dans les prochains mois.
Le week-end dernier, Londres et Glasgow. Accueil très chaleureux, nouvelle affiche plutôt bien, rencontre avec un public des Bafta (Les Oscars Anglais… où j’avais eu 12 nominations avec Amélie, on avait gagné “meilleur script” et “meilleur décor”. Pour ce dernier, je garde un grand souvenir de la tête de nos concurrents perdants, les décorateurs de Lord of the ring, après la présentation de courts “clips” pour illustrer les nominations: décors épiques et grandioses pour Jackson, et pour nous: gros plan de la bille de verre qui vient desceller un carrelage dans la salle de bain d’Amélie !!!


Rencontre avec le public également au British film Institut et au festival de Glasgow. Public très chaleureux, salles bondées…

Puis petit pince fesses à Londres organisé par les Bafta: Rencontre avec Lee Daniels (le talentueux réalisateur de Precious, que j’avais récompensé avec mon jury au festival de Deauville) et qui m’avouait que “oui, il m’avait piqué quelques plans dans Precious, mais que ce n’était rien à côté de son premier film où il m’avait piqué (gestes joints à la parole”) mon nez, ma joue, mon menton etc.”… Bon quand on inspire des gens de talent comme lui ou comme Adam Elliot, le fabuleux réalisateur de Mary and Max, que je vais rencontrer la semaine prochaine à Melbourne, ça va !

Où le réalisateur se demande si avoir du style est un défaut ou une qualité ?

J’aime les réalisateurs qui ont un style vraiment caractéristique. Il suffit de quelques secondes pour savoir qu’on est dans un film de David Lynch, d’Emir Kusturica ou de Tim Burton. De même pour les grands disparus : Sergio Leone, Orson Welles, Fédérico Fellini etc…

Ça ne veux pas dire que je ne trouve pas les autres réalisateurs intéressants. Un Roman Polanski par exemple est un grand metteur en scène et adapte son style à chaque film.

Sans vouloir me comparer à ces géants, je sais que je travaille de la première manière. Alors ça plait ou ça déplait. Il est amusant de constater que ce qui est souvent un reproche en France devient compliment dans les pays étrangers, spécialement dans les pays anglo-saxons.

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