Jan 19, 2012|
HK Magazine: “A Happy Event” is based on writer/philosopher Éliette Abécassis’s eponymous autobiographical novel. What was it about the book that drew your interest in the first place?
Rémi Bezançon: There are hardly any books or films out there that talk about maternity so honestly and openly. For some reason, motherhood is still a taboo subject in today’s society and Éliette’s book is very unique as it tells the truth of maternity and lifts the taboo. And that really interested me.
HK: A motherhood story told through a female perspective. As a male director, how did you approach it?
RB: I think it’s because it is such a quintessentially feminine subject, that it sort of needs a male point of view to approach it with objectivity. Plus, you see, it’s a story written by a woman about a woman played by a woman—that’s a lot of women, and they need a man as the chief! [Laughs]
HK: Your leading lady, Louise Bourgoin (a famous French TV presenter), is not a trained actress. How did you come up with the decision of casting her?
RB: Barbara, the film’s heroine, is a very tough role to play. There’s a lot of nudity involved; an actress has to be stripped bare, both literally and metaphorically, and that needs a lot of trust between the actress and the director. I auditioned a lot of actresses but Louise was the best choice. She’s ready for the challenge and gave me her complete trust. And at the end, her performance was better than I ever hoped for.
HK: And what kind of preparations did you do yourself for this film?
RB: Oh, I talked to a lot of women! Expectant women and moms. I asked them loads of questions and listened to a lot of stories, trying to enter their mind. I really learned that pregnancy is a beautiful but very difficult process.
HK: Do you think the film will discourage people from having kids?
RB: In France, more than 25 percent of divorces happen soon after the birth of
the couple’s first child. That’s a shockingly high percentage. I definitely didn’t make
the movie to scare people off of the idea of having children, but part of my intention
was to tell people that they have to be ready, be prepared, for parenthood before they
make the decision. In a way, it’s preventive movie [laughs]!
HK: Your last feature film, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” which I enjoyed immensely, is also about family. Is this a topic that you’re very keen on?
RB: Yes, very much. I like setting films in families because they are the micro units that society is made of. They’re the reliable shelters and refuges you can hide in whenever you encounter hardships.
HK: How is your own family like? Is it an artistic household?
RB: Oh no. My family isn’t artistic at all. When I told them I wanted to make films, all of the family members were opposed to the idea, especially my father. But after I made my first film and showed it to him, he really liked it. Now he’s very proud of me.
HK: Who are your favorite filmmakers?
RB: Among French filmmakers, I’m a huge fan of Clouzot and Jacques Audiard—he’s the best director in France right now. I also like Hollywood classics made by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen. Hong Kong cinema is a big part of my inspiration too; I watched a lot of John Woo and Johnnie To.
HK: Future projects?
RB: Right now I’m working on an animation called “Zarafa.” It’s based on the true story of the first giraffe in France. It was given to the King of France by the King of Egypt in 1827 and its name was Zarafa, which means “giraffe” in Arabic.
“A Happy Event” has opened on Jan 19 in selected cinemas. Watch the trailer and read our review here.