Many times we highlight individuals in various walks of life that are not only embracing other cultures but all of their own individual cultures, no matter how many cultures make them who they are. Most times recognizing these traits make for a better person. But what about when someone renounces their ethnic background? Is there a good reason to do so? This story might be one of those times.
By Steve Rose, The Guardian
Mathieu Kassovitz was hailed as the heir to Truffaut after making La Haine in 1995. So why has he renounced French cinema after making his latest film, Rebellion?
Any doubts over Mathieu Kassovitz‘s feelings towards his national film industry were cleared up last year when he tweeted: “Bugger French cinema. Go fuck yourself with your shitty films.” He’s done with France. He’s moved to Los Angeles. The tweet was in response to the César nominations, France’s equivalent of the Oscars. In a field dominated by The Artist and Untouchable, Kassovitz’s sober political thriller, Rebellion, received just one nomination, for best adapted screenplay.
“I wasn’t hurt because they didn’t want to give me a César, I was hurt because they didn’t care about that kind of movie any more,” says Kassovitz, who has previously won three Césars and never turned up to collect them. “It’s a French story. It’s craftsmanship. We don’t take the audience for assholes. It’s a big-scale movie. You’re saying you don’t need movies like that? You’d rather go crazy about comedies or lookalike American movies than defend that kind of cinema?”
Brits are accustomed to viewing France’s distinguished, state-subsidised film industry with envy, but Kassovitz’s departure is one of a number of signals that all is not well across the Channel. Another came last December, when the country’s best-known actor, Gérard Depardieu, renounced his French citizenship, heading first to Belgium, then Russia. France’s new 75% tax rate was believed to be the reason, but like Kassovitz, Depardieu blamed the country’s “lack of energy”.
Soon after, Vincent Maraval, the co-chief of the distribution firm Wild Bunch, wrote an inflammatory letter in Le Monde, stating that the real scandal was not Depardieu’s departure but the facts that French film failed to turn a profit last year, that its actors were vastly overpaid and that its famous subsidy system wasn’t working.
“France is not very exciting movie-wise,” says Kassovitz. “I don’t find it very sexy. I’m not challenged by the other directors, and I need to be challenged. I’m very pretentious! I like my craft, I like my films, and I want to be surprised and I want to be amazed and I want to take a fucking slap across the face when I see a movie. I don’t want to be bored.”
If the French film industry lacks energy, Kassovitz certainly doesn’t. Even though he’s tired and yawning when I first meet him in Soho, central London, he soon gets fired up talking about his career and country. His breakthrough movie, La Haine, was as good a slap across the face as any film-maker has given in the past 20 years. Raw, bleak but vibrantly rendered, it exposed the faultlines of modern France – racial, generational, economic – against a backdrop of sterile housing estates and simmering police tension. With subsequent riots in France and Britain, its relevance…[Read Full Article Here]