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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | December 11, 2019

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Tasting France with Benoit Jacquot

Tasting France with Benoit Jacquot
Cathy Dee

Benoit Jacquot is one of France’s most revered directors. Throughout his career he has directed nearly 30 films and done numerous other collaborations. He was in Brisbane recently for the opening of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, which is screening his latest film, Farewell my Queen. While he was in town I was lucky enough to talk to him and ask a few questions.

Farewell, my Queen is based on the book by Chantal Thomas. Did you think it important to stick to the plot of the book or did you add your own details?

I like very much the plot of the book, that’s why I made a film with it. But I changed radically some very important things. Firstly the book is a kind of flashback to a remembrance of those events, by a woman many years after, when she is very old and I didn’t want that. I wanted the film to be set in the present time of the events that were going on. Certainly I wanted the girl (heroine), Sidonie, to be not like the book where she is 50 years old, I wanted her to be 20, it was very important.

There have been more than a few films made about the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette. Do you think Farewell, my Queen shows a different side to the story?

Yes, very different, because the point of view is a kind of reverse of the décor of the set. We see what we don’t see generally, which is all of the Versailles castle. We see the castle and the places that everybody in the world knows, but we also see what nobody knows, the corridors, the narrow staircases, all those very hidden and backstage areas.

Farewell, my Queen was partly shot on location in Versailles. How did you find this process?

It was easy, but it was expensive. [Laughing] I think it is a bit of a scandal, when you pay that price.

Farewell, my Queen is to be released on the 6th June in Australia. How do you think it will be received?

Very well I suppose, like everywhere in the world. If it’s not, it’s a pity for Australian people. It’s working very well in the festival.

What do you think of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival?

I just saw the titles of the movies presented [for the festival]. It seems to be very good and representative of French cinema. There are several very, very good films [screening]. I have seen almost all of the films.

You have had a long career in film and continue to be successful in the film industry, do you have any advice for people wanting to break into the film industry?

I learnt on my own, I never went to a film school. When you want to do something really, whatever it is, you do it.

Do you have any more films or projects in production at the moment? What can we expect next?

I have two films to shoot next month. Both are being filmed in France, with French actors and actresses.