Born and raised in Marseille and the son of a docker, Robert Guédiguian is justly regarded as one of the most talented film directors of his generation. His vivid and memorable films are mostly about about working-class life in Marseille and ‘Marius y Jeannette’ is probably his best known film. He became a communist party member as a teenager, in the turbulent year of 1968. In 2022, he now describes himself as an ‘anarcho-communist’ and he has just received the ‘Palmera de Honor of the Mostra de València-Cinema del Mediterrani’. Thanks to this tribute, it will be possible to see the French filmmaker’s entire filmography at the Filmoteca de València. ‘24/7 Valencia’ were honoured to be invited to his masterclass this weekend in Valencia. Also present was the charismatic leading actress of Robert’s films, Ariane Ascaride… who is also his wife. They continue to live in Marseille.
LEGENDARY FILM DIRECTOR ROBERT GUÉDIGUIAN (’24/7 VALENCIA’ INTERVIEW)
24/7 VALENCIA: What is your view of what filmmaking should be?
ROBERT GUÉDIGUIAN: “Filmmakers should be concerned about the public, I am against the theories of art for art’s sake. A filmmaker must strive to create with an amount of freedom… but try to do things that are understandable…even if they are misunderstood. You shouldn’t try to mask reality. Each scene should mean something.”
Could you tell us more about your films?
“My films shows the great passions of the ‘pueblo’ and how the artist must walk ahead of the people…but to only be one step ahead. I am moved and interested in the struggles that happen in the factories and in local barrios. I’m interested in looking for those moments, which I call communist, when the collective and the individual are in harmony.”
You have had a permanent team of screenwriters and actors since you started directing films in the 1980s, including your wife, the leading actress Ariane Ascaride…
“Yes. They are my age, we have grown up together and I write for them and their descendants, children, grandchildren, we are already a family of more than 16 members, so I have characters of all ages.”
Could you tell us something about your new film,‘And the party continues!’ which is out in 2023?
“It is based on a tragic story, the collapse of a building in Marseille in which there were several victims. A popular, or what I call communistic and ‘solidarity’ movement was awakened. By chance, next to that house, there was a statue of Homer, a character from Greek mythology who was blind but not deaf. And it is he who tells this story. ”
Many of your films are based in Marseille where you were grew up. Please explain something of the difference between the North and South of France.
“From around the 12th century onwards, Paris became the most important city and area in France and that hasn’t changed to this day. What the South of France has is the outdoor life, the Mediterranean sea, a chance to meditate and to party too. It’s a question of frontiers. Look at Lille in France and it would be looking more towards Flanders. Similarly, Alsace–Lorraine would be more like Germany. The South of France is more like Mediterranean Spain or Italy in terms of a way of life and a strong identity. My father was Armenian and my mother was German but, above all, I’m from Marseille!”
How do you feel about your award at this year’s Mostra film festival in Valencia?
“I have remembered my parents, who were workers and had no voice. I feel that my mission was to be their spokesperson. I have written for them and for all those people who are never in the limelight. I want to dedicate this prize to all the workers of the world.”
Interview by ‘24/7 Valencia’ team
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
‘ROBERT GUÉDIGUIAN in Valencia’ photo copyright ’24/7 Valencia’
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