Film Scouts Interviews

"Le Fils de Gascogne" (The Sons of Gascogne) Press Conference
at the 1995 New York Film Festival

by Henri Béhar
[ The life of a young Parisan tour guide--including his love life with an adolescent Russian filmbuff associated with a Georgian singing group on tour--suddenly moves into high gear when a conniving chauffeur passes him off as the son of a late, legendary New Wave filmmaker. He's introduced to many key figures of that era, playing themselves as they are today...]

QUESTION (to the director): Since you worked a lot in documentaries, did you find the concept of casting for fiction difficult to tackle?

PASCAL AUBIER: For me, there's no difference in nature between fiction and documentary. In documentaries, you impose your point of view, your vision of the world, therefore you're doing fiction. It's the same job: cinema. In this film we deal with illusion. But all cinema is illusion. Bulle pretends to play herself in the film, she isn't. Her part is written. The same goes for all the other actors impersonating "themselves": they are playing a part.

QUESTION: How did you determine who, among the Nouvelle Vague luminaries--major or minor--was going to do a cameo?

PASCAL AUBIER: Among the actors I knew, I chose those I loved. And among those I loved, I chose those that were available. (Laughs) Plus I didn't want to put everybody in it. This was not a museum catalogue, but a movie, and they were all part of the action.

QUESTION: How did you get the actors to come to the party chez Alexandra Stewart near the end of the film?

PASCAL AUBIER: We just called and said, "Is Saturday night at nine okay?"

QUESTION: You also direct three directors: Patrice Lecomte ("Monsieur Hire"), Michel Deville ("Le Paltoquet"), and Claude Chabrol ("La Ceremonie")

PASCAL AUBIER: And they're great actors, aren't they? Deville was Deville, quiet but always curious. Patrice was silent--typical. Chabrol ate and talked--typical: he's a big talker and a huge gourmet, and he gleefully displayed both talents in his scene. The menu was the first thing he discussed on the phone when I approached him.

QUESTION: Actress Marie-France Pisier is discovered waking up on Bernadette Lafont's couch. Did she just happen to be there?

PASCAL AUBIER: And had she slept on the set for three days? (Laughs). That part was written for Jean-Pierre Leaud, who was FranÁois Truffaut's Antoine Doisnel in several films. He pulled out two days before he was to shoot his scene. "I represent the New Wave more than anybody else," he said. "I don't want to be confronted with people who were less representative of it." So Marie-France took over the part. There's a sort of inside joke here: as you may recall, they had co-starred in FranÁois Truffaut's "L'Amour A Vingt Ans".

QUESTION: Is THE SON OF GASCOGNE a nostalgia trip?

LASZLO SZABO: Depends what you put in the word "nostalgia". If you tinge it with regret, it's not. For me, nostalgia is just a pretext to trek back down memory lane. It triggers our own memories.

BULLE OGIER: Nostalgia has nothing to do with it. All those actors and actresses--Stephane (Audran), Macha (Meryl), Bernadette (Lafont)--I see them every now and then, we meet, we have drinks, dinners, whatever. It just felt great to be together again. I don't feed on nostalgia, so "nostalgia" is not the operative word here.

OLIVIA BRUNAUX: I'm too young to be nostalgic. Making THE SON OF GASCOGNE taught me a whole bunch of things I didn't know. I'd seen all these actors on screen or on stage, I didn't know what linked them. And I'm happy to have been invited to join the group.

QUESTION: Then was the main idea behind the film to show French cinema through the eyes of a young man who doesn't know much about it or its past?

PASCAL AUBIER: Partly. This kid, Harvey, never knew his father. Suddenly, he is told his father was...a Director. And he meets all these people who he's been told are part of cinema, a part of his country's cultural past he knew nothing about. That's also why we had the Singing Russians on tour. I'd met Russians who knew everything about our films without having seen any. And I thought it was fun to have a Russian girl, 30 years later, asking same questions as Jan Seberg in "Breathless".

In France, people who are Harvey's age--young people--don't know much about the New Wave, but they are curious. So part of the idea was to give them a taste for old cinema. I mean, cinema. It's not that it was so great then; it's great today, too. Every film should make people love cinema.

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