News  ·  04 | 08 | 2018

Cinéma Dumont

Interview to Bruno Dumont, Pardo d'onore Manor

With this Pardo d’onore Manor, Locarno pays tribute to your directorial career, with films that are very different in terms of inspiration, topics and style. Beyond this variety, is there something you’re always looking for in your work? 

Of course there is. If I weren’t searching, I wouldn’t be making films. What interests me is to plumb into nature and people, getting to the mystery of things I don’t understand. I film what I don’t understand. 


How do you expect the viewer to respond to this “don’t understand”? 

I think cinema is a conversation. The art of cinema is to go towards the viewer. The image is an intermediary of sorts, to establish a conversation, to have a dialogue with the viewer. I look for cinema that is the film of our inner life.  


This search has often led to the casting of non-professional actors. What influenced this choice? 

I make films with nature. Trees are natural, and I need people to be natural as well. The primary requirement is to film something true. After that comes the artifice, the invisible, but we have to start with a nature and creatures that look real. However, I do work with professionals as well, they’re living creatures too… 


I imagine the preparation process is different with artists like Juliette Binoche, who you directed in Camille Claudel 1915 and Ma Loute… 

Yes, because they are sophisticated instruments, with an execution ability that is more elaborate compared to a natural actor. The latter plays three notes, a professional actor plays twenty. The natural actor, I think, is deeper, while the professional aims higher. When you need depth and height, you work with both.  


You also worked with non-professionals on P’tit Quinquin in 2014, and on its sequel Coincoin et les Z’inhumains, which will be shown during the Festival. What did it mean for you to work on a television format? 

The difference between film and television is, the latter is smaller. This changes everything: the relationship with the viewers is not the same. In the cinema they’re small, and they become bigger sitting in front of the television. Therefore, you have to alter the values of what you do in order to be at the viewer’s level. For example, it’s not worth shooting very wide shots on television, because you can’t see them. The pacing is quicker and the sequences are smaller. It’s a miniature of sorts, like when you’re painting, you do both miniatures and blow-ups. I like both, and I love working both in film and television, but I employ different methods for each one. 


What made you go back to the character of Coincoin four years later? 

TV series give you the possibility to explore the characters year after year. In P’tit Quinquin the actor was 13 years old; at 13 you have the emotions of a child. Now he’s 17, he’s an adolescent, and it was interesting to capture the character in his duration, in his restlessness, in the changes of life itself. 


There’s a strong comedic element in Coincoin et les Z’inhumains, which wasn’t the case with the early stages of your filmography... 

Comedy is a fairly recent discovery for me. I think that if you work in drama and go deeper, it's rooted in comedy. Comedy is drama that falls down, while remaining dramatic. It requires taking risks: we talk about suspense, and to achieve the suspensions (as we saw on Wednesday with Laurel & Hardy in Liberty) you need mechanics – mechanics which draw us just the way we are. Comedy, I think, is very philosophical: it says very profound things in a very easy way. I don't think we have to be complicated or difficult. I don't like obscure cinema, I think there has to be understanding. Comedy is a good way to explore things in a blurred way.