For thirty years, filmmaker, producer and screenwriter Rachid Bouchareb has been examining history through his films, most notably Days of Glory in 2006 and Outside the Law (“Hors-la-Loi”) in 2010. Through 26th June he will be supporting the 17 directors and producers from the Global South who are taking part in the Fabrique Cinéma, as a sponsor of a fully digital 2020 edition. A look back at his discussions with young filmmakers and the highlights of his career.
Updated on 23/06/2020
This year you are a sponsor of the Institut français Fabrique Cinéma. What do you want to pass on to the new generations of filmmakers in these developing countries of the Global South?
I am very modest about what I can offer. I don't want to divert a filmmaker from the path to which they've committed. And all the La Fabrique Cinéma filmmakers I met proved to me that they knew what they wanted to do! Some were already up to speed on their casting, others had already scouted locations or even shot some images. Diving into the middle of this process would be like tearing down a house that’s under construction! Because of this we mainly discussed their personal stories and the situation in their countries. I didn't talk to them at all about how to make a film or write a script. I always engaged in a constructive discussion, offering my opinion on what I had been able to read rather than teaching from a position of expertise.
What are the main challenges for these emerging filmmakers?
The filmmakers presented me with documentaries with a strong social and political aspect located in Brazil or Mozambique, as well as fictions rooted in the past: I thus learned a lot about the history and functioning of each country. Our discussions often focused on the difficulties they had encountered, the censorship that some may face, the lack of resources, and the lack of interest on the part of the leaders, the impossibility of offering a critical perspective without putting themselves in danger...
Does your career resonate with theirs?
I explained to these filmmakers and producers that they were currently experiencing the best time of their careers and that they were very lucky! The start of a first film – this time of firsts – is a moment of great freedom. The first steps into the world of cinema are exceptional moments, marked by this strong desire to tell stories. I think that’s why I became a filmmaker: I had things to say, and wanted to share them. Even today when I make a film, I really like the script-writing phase: it’s the time for documentation, research, meetings, hours spent in the library and in the archives…
What have been the highlights of your career?
There are certainly several, but Days of Glory, released in 2006, remains one of the greatest moments. I was very emotionally involved in that journey - from the research and writing work that lasted almost two years to meeting with veterans and the whole artistic team. And then, the film was very successful in France – winning the César for Best Original Screenplay and the award for Best Actor being granted to the actors as a group Cannes – as well as internationally, with a nomination for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The great thing about it was that the film went beyond cinema. My film was about fixing an injustice; it eventually resulted in the release of the pensions of veterans from the colonies, which had been frozen for 50 years. I still believe in destiny...
What is your understanding of cinema?
I see politics everywhere in cinema. A film always says something beyond social and political debates. I am convinced that social commitment is in the heart of all artists, whether they are writers, dancers, musicians or filmmakers. And this commitment is at all levels: it is involved in choosing a set as well as choosing an actor.
However, when we make cinema, we also want the films to be seen. I personally pay close attention to how the audience feels. It is for this reason that I like to accompany my films as much as possible when they are released in France and abroad. That’s the best way to see if the viewers share my understanding of the world...
Does this world in which we are living inspire you for your next films?
On the contrary, I think the world is just repeating itself. Basically, today's society is nothing but the society of the last fifty years, with the same faults, and that's a bit sad. I prefer to delve into the past — the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s for example — to deal with the world of today.
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