Philippe Grandrieux’s Acceptance Speech at Las Palmas Film Festival

At the Las Palmas International Film Festival in Spain last month (March 6-14), I had the honour and pleasure of accepting two awards (one for innovation, another for cinematography) on behalf of the great director Philippe Grandrieux and his new film Un Lac (A Lake, 2008) – and of reading the following speech (translation mine) which he sent to me via SMS! – Adrian Martin

“I thank the Grand Jury of the Las Palmas Film Festival for having awarded two prizes to Un Lac. And I am happy they will be delivered into Adrian’s good hands. I am also very happy that these awards come from a country that I especially love. Light and innovation: what a beautiful definition of cinema, of its vitality and greatest energy. I am unable to attend the Festival, because my film is being released in France in a few days – but, despite the distance that sadly separates me from you this evening, I joyfully accept these prizes at the very same instant that you give them to me, because they are coming from Las Palmas to Paris carried at the speed of light: the light of cinema, which is the light that illuminates all our lives. Thank you again, Philippe Grandrieux.”

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5 Responses to “Philippe Grandrieux’s Acceptance Speech at Las Palmas Film Festival”

  1. HarryTuttle Says:

    It makes sense (to me) that he gets an award for the cinematography and not for screenwriting or direction.

  2. apmartin Says:

    Adrian here: I wasn’t on the Las Palmas Jury myself, HarryT! In all likelihood, I would not (if in that situation) have voted for a screewnriting award for UN LAC – but direction, well, absolutely! (and Best Film too, while we’re there!!) According to the review in the current POSITIF, Grandrieux gradually eliminated all tragic or melodramatic elements from his script: the writing phase is a type of preparation for shooting with him, it ‘lays the ground’ for what he will deal with, but doesn’t straitjacket him. For me, the results on-screen prove the worth of the process, at least in his case. It’s not, of course, a process that would suit every filmmaker!

  3. HarryTuttle Says:

    I know you like the film whole. And I’m not suggesting the direction is an issue. Just that, if I have to pick one aspect, it’s cinematography that stands out. And this Jury seems to see it like me.

    The dramatic developments of the usual genre movie might be eliminated, because he goes for minimalism. But the melodramatic archetypes are there, or clichés of Romanticism rather.
    Maybe it’s a “Brechtian” approach to direction (which is not new in stage theatre or in cinema), but the substance of the film doesn’t tell us anything new about his world vision, does it? I don’t think he does something out of the ordinary with this kind of abstraction of the melo.

    In the press kit he says he scouted for months for the right lake… and we barely see it in the film. His coverage of the environment is truncated, there is little continuity between shots, and the house is a prop. Nothing wrong in itself with artificial sets, but the gap between his speech (for realism) and the result on screen (for abstraction) is self-contradictory. This film didn’t really need a one-of-a-kind lake.

    The representation of the poor, you know what Nicole Brenez said at the NYU conference (“Responsibilities of Film Criticism”) last year… Do you think Grandrieux (in this film specifically) is someone who is an insightful witness of our times, of our society? He films abstract characters isolated in a forest, away from anything contemporary. I’m surprised by your preference for a timeless parable. These people are not Russian, not French, not 21st century.

    Are you saying that the cinema of the 21st century will not be “tragic”, “realist”, nor “contemporary”?

    At least in the “Contemplative Cinema” vein, I believe they take on daily life subjects and contemporary families, often poor and rural, even when they tend to photogenic abstraction (Still Life, Syndromes and a Century, Battle in Heaven, Colossal Youth, Inland Empire, La Blessure, Là-bas, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone…)

    Maybe it was the best film of *this* festival, OK… I don’t know.

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