With the release of “Hero of Her Life” in Israel, director Michel Haznevicius tells why he created a film for the whole family this time, reveals why he rejected offers to move to America and claims: “I am the proof that anyone can win an Oscar”
Exactly a decade ago, the silent French film “The Artist” came out of nowhere and left Hollywood speechless. Most filmmakers around the world had never heard of screenwriter-director Michelle Zenwitzius before, but had to start breaking their keyboards and teeth when he won award after award that year, including a host of Oscars.
Among other things, “The Artist” picked up the Oscars in the best director and film categories. Following this, of course, the Zenowitzius received offers to move to America, but he rejected them. “A lot of people expected me to make the move, but I preferred to keep my creative freedom, and stay in France,” the charming director tells us in a special interview, held at a Parisian hotel.
The Zenowitzius remained in Paris and failed to replicate the success of “The Artist.” “The Search” and “Outstanding” by him were screened at the official Cannes Film Festival competition, but the box office and critical performances were disappointing. Now it’s the turn of “Hero of Her Life”, in which he appears in the lead role none other than Omar C., who is the star of “Lupine” and the best-known French actor at the moment. But even his name did not help make the film a blockbuster in France.
At the end of the week, “Hero of Her Life” will be released in Israel, a country that Zenowitzius is well acquainted with. His partner Bernice Bejo, who starred in “The Artist” and also appears in “Hero of Her Life”, was recently photographed for “Remove Worry from Your Heart”, the English- and Hebrew-speaking film by Israeli director Tom Shoval, and the French director has visited Israel several times in recent years.
“Hero of Her Life” is different from the previous films of Zenowicius, which is addressed here for the first time to the whole family. Omar C. plays a widower who used to tell his daughter bedtime stories about miracles and wonders that take place in a world of fairy tales, in which he himself is the protagonist. As his daughter grows older, she loses interest in practicality and directs her energies to correspondence with sons, and the father is required to use his imagination to maintain his place in her life.
“Bedtime stories are an important institution, and no wonder it exists in every society and in every culture,” says Zenowicius. “I also tell stories to my children, and it’s hard work, because children know how to value quality, so we have to work hard for them. Stories cultivate in us the ability to empathize and believe in something bigger than you, so they are worth the investment. I created ‘Hero Hero’, because the world Of movies for the whole family attracted me, there is not a drop of cynicism in them. ”
Children are said to be the best screenwriters in the world. What were their reactions to the film?
“Children’s reactions are interesting because they have no filters, and they are very curious. The film does not detail why the protagonist was widowed, and one child approached me and asked why his wife died.”
Why did you really not put it in the script?
“Because in fairy tales only what happens in the present tense is told, there is nothing that is not part of the plot development. Therefore the characters usually also have no first names, and are defined by profession, age and character. The structure of the legends is very meticulous, because there is no room for any detail necessary”.
“The Artist” was released in the same year that “Connected to Life” was released, the film that became a world-wide cultural phenomenon, even here, and kicked off Omar C.’s career. “A kind of brotherhood was created between us, because extraordinary things happened to us relative to French filmmakers,” says the Zenvucius. “We had affection and mutual appreciation, but we did not get to work together. He is the first actor I thought of for a role in this film, because it has something realistic but also something fantastic, so it is ideal for a story that moves between reality and legend.”
Do you think that he too will win an Oscar one day?
“Ultimately, actors depend on the characters they play. I wish Omar would win, although of course that would not happen for this film, which does not have the profile of Oscar winners. Anyone can win an Oscar, I am the proof of that, but basically, the chances of an actor or “A French director to win this award is faint and even delusional. I never intended to pick the figurine. It more or less fell on me, and it’s wonderful.”
It’s amazing how much the world has changed in the last ten years since “The Artist”.
“It has changed for the better, with processes like the MeToo, and also for the worse of course. I think a decade ago there was a sense that the world was going in a positive direction, but now there is a feeling that we are the orchestra playing the Titanic. .
When you won the Oscar, you stood on stage and said you thanked three people – Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder and Billy Wilder. Have your kids already watched his movies?
“The older kids have seen a lot of his movies, and they especially like ‘The Apartment’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard.’
Avner Shavit is the film critic of Walla!