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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Lunch with Jacques Doillon, Chicago

2015-03-10 12.42.01 copy
An informal lunch with the charming if melancholic-in-the-moment French filmmaker Jacques Doillon, with critic Ben Sachs, courtesy of the French consulate, the day after Doc Films’ presentation of his as-yet-undistributed in the U. S. Love Battles. His post-screening Q&A had run over an hour. “I had no sleep the night before. I have no idea what I was saying. I hope I was bright and amusing.”

Doillon vin

Doillon pours his ice-cube-heavy water into the red wine in front of him. The table wine when he was growing up was usually so terrible, he got into the habit of adding water ever since. He says his more proletarian background does not match the bourgeoisie origins of much of the Nouvelle Vague. “Marguerite Duras was unclassifiable, you cannot just describe her as that kind of writer. I am for Stendhal, not the Nouveau Roman. I am a reactionary cineaste! I find no poetry in the abyss.”

Doillon sunglasses

“There are French filmmakers who matter, who matter to me besides my own films? Pialat, Eustache, Duras, Garrel. Garrel and I have been friends for, I don’t know, thirty years? I acted in one of his films, but I never saw it, I was afraid. I never wanted to act. I don’t want to mess up other peoples’ films, but I’m not concerned about my own. The first half hour of Maman et la Putain, I think the acting is not very good, but after three-and-a-half hours, there is only magnificence. I only met Eustache a few times. I don’t watch new movies much anymore. My learning is past. And I don’t live in Paris, I live in Normandy. The theaters show movies just like the ones you can see on television. A new generation can’t tell the difference.”

Doillon has hoped to mount a new film for months now, but he says the system no longer works for a filmmaker like himself, the “cultural exception” applies to films that fit a slot on television, not the work of an auteur. The dance of money between producers, distributors and actors stymies his efforts at the age of 70.

Doillon Wabash Chicago

“None of the new cineastes know Mizoguchi! I have affinities for filmmakers west and east and north, the French, we worked in our own corners.”

Then Jacques Doillon leans over, says, “Let me tell you how I met Pialat…” A pause. “Entre nous…” and he continues…

All images © 2015 Ray Pride

Les lunettes Jacques Doillon

A video posted by Ray Pride (@raypride) on


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