Costa-Gavras: A life to criticize the injustice

Costa-Gavras: Une vie à pourfendre l'injustice

Costa-Gavras: Une vie à pourfendre l'injustice

The filmmaker Costa-Gavras has just achieved <em>Chat for adults</em>, a film that explores the underbelly of the debt crisis in Greece.


May 22, 2020 4: 00


Costa-Gavras: A life to criticize the injustice

Costa-Gavras: Une vie à pourfendre l'injustice

Costa-Gavras: Une vie à pourfendre l'injustice

Eric Moreault

The Sun

To 87 years, Costa-Gavras still burns the sacred fire. This slayer of injustice, socio-political, rare filmmaker engaged with such greats as Loach, Leigh or the Dardenne continued his quest for equality with adult Conversation. His film focuses on the very serious debt crisis that is strangling the Greek people, in the coming to power of the left in 2015, hostile to the reforms suggested by the european authorities. The Sun has joined the legendary director at his parisian home where the COVID-19 did not alter his good mood, nor his verve as usual.

Q Your film has been presented at the Venice film Festival in 2019 and has seen a theatrical release in Europe last fall. Unfortunately, in North America, it will be available as video-on-demand (on may 22). It make you sorry?

R It is very sad. The films, it is necessary to see in a theater — it is essential. They have a different dimension when we see them at home or, even worse, on his phone.

Q We met in 2012 for The capital, your previous film. You said : “The world is increasingly led by large banks.” Do you believe that adult Conversation is the extension?

R , It is always about the money, which plays an important role in our societies. It was hoped that the european Union would make a lot more sense. Of course, the current situation has changed radically with [the pandemic]. But what remains are the banks and big trusts economic.

Q You have left Greece a long time ago, in the 1950s, but you had to feel challenged by this crisis that started in 2008. Is this the reason that convinced you to make this film?

R It is a part of the Greek people. The upper class has not suffered much, on the contrary. In my opinion, they are enriched further. While those who suffer, it is the small people and the middle class. The european Union has not addressed this huge problem. It has taken into account the survival of the banks [of the euro], etc

Q Your career is built on a work that denounces the injustices and takes a critical look at the institutions, while analyzing the impacts on individuals, precisely. Yet this time?

R , Of Course. We, especially my generation, we thought that with the european Union, a lot of social problems, cultural and educational would be solved. In any case, would have at least borrowed a good path. We see that once more, capitalism took over, and it is he who directs. Europe has become a kind of supermarket. Of course, where you can walk from one country to another easily, it has the same currency and no need for a passport. These are large facilities. But, at the same time, these facilities are only oriented toward the consumer. This is unacceptable. This is not how we dreamed of Europe, which could be exemplary for the whole world, including environmental. Especially that you can see what is happening in the United States with the stampede full of all these presidents of the absurd, which follow almost. There has been a good one, there, (laughter)…

Q To address the situation of the Greek crisis created by the intransigence of the european Union in general and Germany in particular, why have you chosen to adapt the book of Yánis Varoufákis, the ephemeral minister of Finance in 2015?

R Because it is a witness, Varoufákis. When the crisis started in Greece, I’m interested and, more importantly, how she would get out of it. And for years, I’ve read the articles, but we do not understand very well what was happening. Then Varoufákis and the left came to power and it was thought that things were going to change. And Varoufákis is gone [after five months]. One day, he has published a very long article that interested me a lot. I asked him if we could collaborate. He told me that he wrote a book. He has sent me as the chapters that he wrote and I said to myself : “there, there is a film”. Because it told the story from the inside. While what we knew, it was this one that told the other ministers [of the Eu] after the meetings. And it does not correspond to the situation. When I read this book, it was very clear what was happening there. However, there were no reports of meetings. This is why Varoufákis decided to save them. It is with these recordings that I have heard, that he wrote [Conversations between adults. Behind-the-scenes secret of Europe, 2017]. Without it, it was impossible to write such a scenario.

In front of the press, each said what he wanted. The only person who revealed the content of these meetings, it is [Christine] Lagarde, [the DG of the international monetary Fund from 2011 to 2019] when she said : “we need adults in this room”. Because he was saying things absurd, and that it does not lead to anything.

Costa-Gavras: Une vie à pourfendre l'injustice

Costa-Gavras adapted the book to Yánis Varoufákis (played by in the movie by Christos Loulis), a short-lived Greek Finance minister in 2015.


Q Up to what point he has been working on the film?

R I read the script and he told me that it corresponded to reality. It has not worked more than that.

Q you knew You had, in spite of everything, an extremely complex subject. It is for this reason that you have relied heavily on the dialogues?

R Yes, they were very important. There is a dialogue that we can not invent. Like when the German minister [of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, and taking hard-line] said : “to your place, I would sign not the [eu proposal], it’s bad for your people.” This is honesty amazing. But I had to make a choice, I couldn’t get everything.

Q Why fiction rather than a documentary? The lack of images?

R A documentary, we would not have been able to, in effect, because of the lack of images. A documentary can not synthesize, I believe, as one can do in fiction. We can not do more to put distance between the real and the viewer as with the fiction. It gives him a general idea and if he wants to improve things, he may do so by seeking information from other sources. Fiction is more powerful than the documentary in some cases and in this one, in particular.

Q You were talking about your generation, all of the time. At the age of 87, this would be your film-will or you hope to still turn?

R (Laughs) It does not depend on me, but of mother Nature. If she lets me, I’ll do it…

Q As you can or not, you have a filmography more impressive. I know what you’re going to answer, but I ask you all the same : a favorite in the lot?

R films, it is as the children. There are those who succeed in life, others do not (laughs). There are two or three who have not been successful as I wanted to, but they are much in my heart. The other, they live their life, some for over 50 years!

A question and answer session with Costa-Gavras will take place this Sunday, may 24 at 13h on the page Facebook of the M4:3.

Le Soleil

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