Monday, April 25, 2011

Interview with Maria Schneider (re-broadcast from March 2001).

By Moira Sullivan

Movie Magazine International      Interview
A Transcript

Maria Schneider
Interview By Moira Sullivan

©Moira Sullivan 2001
Maria Schneider was the Guest of Honor at the Créteil Films de Femmes International Women's Film Festival, March 23-April 2, 2001 and honored with a retrospective of her work. Schneider was the star of the riveting Last Tango in Paris (Italy, 1972), a film New York film critic Pauline Kael loved and defended and whose 6,000 word review was used as an ad to promote the film. In Italy director Bernardo Bertolucci and actors Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando were brought to court for making an 'indecent' film. The charges were later dropped. In several cities in the US, the film was banned. Schneider's career after that was always equated with this cardinal work. She starred in over 40 films and is presented here in a personal interview at the Créteil festival.

Q: Maria you were the 'cause celebre' of the '70s art house films and worked with directors such as Antonioni and Bertolucci. You had a very interesting career and did a lot for women's roles and many people remember you for that. What are you doing now?

A: I'm still struggling for the image of women in film and I'm still working, not as much as I would like to because for a woman in her late forties, it's hard to find work. Not only in France. I had a chat with Angelica Houston last year.We spoke about the same problem, you know. I don't know where it comes from? The writers, the producers, or the directors. But I think it's a pity even for the public. We get a response to see a mature woman in film. We see many, many macho men in film. An actress like Meryl Streep doesn't work as much as Bob DeNiro. That's a struggle that's still going on for many, many years.

Q: Lauren Bacall who was guest at the recent Stockholm International Film Festival said the same thing. She said that the film in which she was Oscar nominated 'The Mirror has Two Faces' was the first good part she had got in a long time.

A: Yeah, yeah yeah. It still goes on.

Q: You did a lot for women's roles in the 1970s and were way out there. You say you don't like the theater; you think its boring and are a real cineaste. Did you find art house cinema or did it find you?

A: I was a student and I wanted to be a painter and I studied Greek and Latin. I wasn't planning to be an actress but was a cinephile and saw two, three,four movies a week and that was a great time for movies because you could see all the neorealism, you could see Bergman, Visconti, Antonioni, and because of destiny I had to stop school. I had a fight with my mother. So I was living alone and did little parts in film to just earn some money. And in one of these films I met Birgitte Bardot. And she took me under her wing and I lived with her for two years and with her I met the movie business and her agents and they said 'you should do movies'. So it was well, just destiny. And then I started right away.

Q: How do you feel about being honored by the Créteil Films de Femmes festival for your work this year?

A: Very touched because I have followed this festival for 23 years. I was on the jury in Sceaux (original site of Films de Femmes in the late 1970s) 20 years ago. And I discovered films at this festival which you couldn't see anywhere. The German school, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Margaretha Von Trotta-films that you couldn't see elsewhere. It still exists because we still have to fight, me as an actress, even if we have more women directors today, it's still difficult, more difficult for women. We are not in the production as much as men. An event like this is important and useful. And plus the girls (organisers) told me, I could show five of my movies, that I could choose-that was interesting.

Q: Because you have made over 40 films?

A: Yeah, (laughter).

Q: What do you think about art house cinema today?....Artistic films that use film language instead of having rising action, falling action and resolution?

A: I've seen the Julian Schnabel film (Before Night Falls) with Javiar Bardem. I saw it privately, because I met Julian and he showed me the film three weeks ago and I think it's a beautiful film. Poetic, lyrical and it says something, but not heavily. Its very fine: I'm glad that there are still films like that today. And I think of 'Straight Story' by David Lynch. A film which I love which is more like a John Ford film. But the message is eternal. And that's important.

Q: That is what you mentioned about Last Tango not being--the way that it was made was that it did not age well as 'The Passenger' (Antonioni, 1975).

A: Yes, Last Tango is typically 70s and the style is a little kitsch today. And it got old. 'The Passenger', no, it still stands. I don't know what do you think?br>
Q: It was great. It was also nostalgic to look back at that time.

A: Me too. (laughter)

Q: How do you feel about the response to you-there is a lot of press in France about you being honored at Créteil? How do you feel you've been received?

A: Very interesting. Because finally after I've been doing this now for thirty years, finally I find some cheerful articles, and you know people kind of understand me better now today than they used to. Because the media threw stones at me. When you read the articles back in the 70s they were terrible back then. And now seeing the kind of choices I made, they kind of understand me better. And respect me better, maybe it's the age, I don't know. (laughter)

Q: Adjectives that come up about you in some of the recent press are 'mysterious' and 'difficult to get to know'. Would you say that's true?

A: No, I don't live around show business. I have a simple life. And maybe that's why. I don't go on television often unless I have something to say. And if you're not in the media today and you don't work, you don't exist which is not true. Many people aren't in the media. But they work and do art.

Q: To get back to Lauren Bacall, she is constantly asked questions about Humphrey Bogart despite the fact she had a life after him. The public has this icon in their mind.

A: I have the same with Last Tango.

Q: If you could write your own legend rather then the legend that has been generated about you what would you write?

A: I will tell you in about 20 years even later on.

Q: There is something very tricky about this word legend-it's kind of like a story. But everyone has a story of their life and sometimes we have our own stories of ourselves that don't get told.

A: Movies are a mirror of society and I'm just an interpreter of that. And I love movies because they are the memory of our time.

Q: Thankyou very much for speaking with us Maria. Do you have any imminent projects coming up?

A: I'm going to shoot in May and play the sister of Isabelle Adjani made by Laetitia Masson, a woman director (The Repentant). Isabelle is interesting. It's Mediterranean, and we're playing two sisters and it's quite tragic.

© 2001 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 4/01

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan  - Air Date: 3/11
Movie Magazine International

Friday, April 22, 2011

The 33rd Créteil International Film Festival Report 3

By Moira Sullivan
Teresa Villaverde

The 33rd Créteil International Film Festival which ran from March 23 to April 3 was topped off in the final days by a visit from Portuguese filmmaker Teresa Villaverde.  The filmmaker was present at the screenings of her work such as Mutantes and Transe. It is fair to say that Teresa Villaverde who became a filmmaker in her 20s is probably one of the best filmmakers in the world today. There is nothing random about the way Villaverde frames each scene in her films. Her creative use of the camera and editing  is a  brilliant picture language Her stories are concise and vivid and create emotional empathy without  forced manipulation.
In Mutantes, young Portuguese boys and girls with problems at home and with themselves are incarcerated in juvenile detention homes. They long for the love of their parents and their freedom but don’t know about boundaries without the foundation of a loving upbringing. They turn to each other to make up their lack. Some break out of the center to enjoy short lived freedom but life is so tough they eventually wind up coming back. 
Anna Moreira
Anna Moreira plays a tough girl who tries to make it on her own. She winds up getting pregnant and gives birth to the baby in a gas station toilet. Afterwards, shaking she walks inside to have a cup of coffee. The grimness of the lives of these youngsters is shot from a variety of perspectives that are visceral and brutal.
In Transe , Anna Moreira is back as a young Russian woman in a bleak narrative about human trafficking. When giant trees fall in the forest at a road stop for the young woman in transit, the beginning of the loss of self is profoundly foreshadowed. After the trees hit the ground, the images are blurred; this begins Sonia's (Ana Moreira) trance as a young victim of trafficking. Sonia is exposed to the most vicious degradation and loss of personal freedom one can experience. Trafficking is a huge problem today and young women are doubly at risk for being sex slaves but also illegal aliens and thereby are not free to speak out against their captivity.
Throughout the film one asks why does Sonia not resist? Why did she allow herself to be put in the trunk of a car because of a supposed raid by immigration authorities in Germany in a factory where she is temporarily working?  We witness the seduction and entrapment . Why does she not run? The loss of self is so complete in this film that it is difficult to watch. But it alerts us to the huge problem of trafficking today for young people. Is it a dream that Sonia envisions a young boy with a rifle in the room aiming at her, where she is forced to service buyers of sex? There are many facets of her trance to reconcile and Villaverde does not make this easy for us.
It was a privilege to meet the director at this festival. Here now is an exclusive interview with Teresa Villaverde.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan Paris

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 04/11/11
Movie Magazine International

33rd Créteil Films de Femmes Film Festival, Report 2

By Moira Sullivan

At the 33rd Créteil Films de Femmes Film Festival, the daughters of Italian film editor Suso D’Amico were present at a special screening of La Notti Bianche (The White Nights, 1957), by Luchino Visconti. The film that was written and edited by D’Amico stars Marcello Mastroianni as Mario, a young man hopelessly in love with Natalia, a young Italian woman played by Maria Schell. She has waited one year for her lover to return, "L'inquilino" - the tenant, played by Jean Marais, and is desperately in love. 
D'Amico, Jackie Buet, director of Créteil festival  ©Moira Sullivan
Pilar Miro's The Cuenca Crime (Spain 1980) was screened at the festival about the shepherd Grimaldos who was murdered at the turn of the century. Two of his workers are falsely accused of his death by the police and a corrupt judge and are tortured for committing this crime. The men who are savagely broken down and made out to be savages.

Maria Schneider 2001© Moira Sullivan
The late actress Maria Schneider was honored on March 29th with a short tribute. A short film from 2005 and an interview when she was the guest of honor at Créteil in 2001 was screened. Due to the marketing power of the distributors of Last Tango in Paris, the film was widely seen, and indeed the only film that journalists wrote about after her early death. But Schneider’s career went on after her debut in a film that she did not like. Last Tango can also be seen as a fascist expose about the tyranny of power in human relationships where the 19-year-old Jeanne played by Schneider endures a series of physical and emotional assaults by the sadist Paul, played by Marlon Brando. As Schneider said "shooting Paul did me good". Her choices after being cast in Last Tango were wise, and she resisted Lolita roles offered to her by directors such as Luis Bunuel and Joseph Losey

Next week, more from the Créteil festival.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Paris. 
© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 04/04/11
Movie Magazine International

The 33rd International Créteil Films de Femmes Festival

By Moira Sullivan
The 33rd International Créteil Films de Femmes Festival in Paris continues to produce one of the highest quality panoramas in the world on the images of women in cinema.
Cecilia Mangini
This year, the focus of the festival is on the work of women who have explored the theme of fascism in Europe. The films of Italian director Cecilia Mangini were shown including short films set to the texts of the late filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, such as Ignoti Alla Citta, from 1958, (Unknown to the city) where excerpts from Pasolini’s controversial novel Ragazzi di vita (Hustlers) shocked Italians in 1955 with his depiction of the decadence of youth, and families in the suburbs of Rome. Another film entitled Stendali (1960) is a funeral song in Griko, the dialect of those of Greek origin in southern Italy. 
Mangini was co director with Lino Del Fra and Lino Miccichè in the brilliant 1962 documentary All’Armi Saim Fascista (To arms, we are fascists) assembles films from the archives of the 20th century through 1960 on the origins of fascism up to the anti fascist strikes of July 1960 in Genoa, Rome, Reggio Emilia, Palermo and Catania.  The film was blocked by censors for one year and presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival that year but it was not until the 1970’s that the film was widely shown in Italy.  Mangini’s film takes up the rise of Benito Mussolini, his union with Hitler and the emergence of Franco and Stalin. 

Present at the screening was the Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros, director of April Captains made in Portugal in 2001. It is a film about the military coup in Portugal in 1974 and the Portuguese revolution. Mangini’s film was packed with the history of fascism in Europe but when asked why Portugal was not a part of the film, it was Maria de Medeiros who explained that there were different historical factors to the political history in Portugal that would not have fit with Mangini’s film.  Cecilia Mangini who is now 84 was present for all the screenings of her work at Creteil this week. 

Carmen Maura
The Spanish actress Carmen Maura who has made films for directors such as Carlos Saura and Pedro Almodóvar was the guest of honor this year at Créteil.  The film Ay Carmela starring Maura was screened about a group of artists, a married couple Paulino (Andrés Pajares) and Carmela, played by Carmen Maura and the young mute Gustavete Gabino Diego. They find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time when they stumble on to soldiers loyal to Franco on the road. In order to save themselves they agree to put on a Pro Franco cabaret, something that Carmela has an increasingly hard timed doing. 
Carmen Maura told the audience that she never thought she could sing or dance very well even though it was clear that she is a first class performer endeared to the public. Ay Carmela was made in 1990 and although Pedro Almodóvar is credited with renewing Spanish cinema after Franco, Carlos Saura was more direct about pointing out the atrocities of the Spanish dictator and his supporters.
We are just on the 4th day of this festival. Other highlights include the screening of a film on Greece by Alida Dimitriou -  Birds in the Mire from 2008. It is a documentary about women who joined the Greek resistance during WWII. Athens had the strongest anti war resistance in Europe at the time. Unfortunately after the war these women were exiled or put in prison when Britain demanded that the Greek resistance movements be disbanded enlisted secret agents from the war for help. 
Next week, more from the Créteil festival.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Paris.

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 03/29/11
Movie Magazine International