Jean-Jacques Annaud talks about his struggle to make his first film “La Victoire en chantant”

Director Jean-Jacques Annaud is the exceptional guest at Le Monde d’Elodie all this week. This lover of the seventh art and history looks back on these unusual moments experienced before, during and after the filming of his films. If some have defined Jean-Jacques Annaud as a “wild” director, we think The bear (1988) and at last wolf (2015), who highlighted his love for the animal world, others have given him the nickname the “roaring” director, especially in light of his commitment and his desire to go a little further in each film to take us somewhere else.

On the occasion of the release on Wednesday, July 20 on DVD, Blu ray and Blu ray 4K of his latest film Notre Dame is burninga blockbuster dedicated to the cathedral’s brand, back in pictures, with him, of nearly 50 years of career.

franceinfo: The director, producer and screenwriter you are never seems to have lost your shining eyes. Does that mean the cinema is your life?

Jean Jacques Annaud : Yes, that’s my life. It amuses me immensely. All aspects of my job are incredibly fun. I obviously spend six months, a year researching the topics. Afterwards, there is the excitement of writing, location scouting, casting, where you meet lots of people. The film footage accompanies this entire troupe of directing and the post-production, which is fascinating, the editing, the digital special effects. Every day I wake up and feel happy. I was very lucky because I got my first camera at eleven, my first camera at seven. When I was a little boy, I did not like playing with my friends, I came home to do my little editing.

I’ve only been an instructor in my life, I do not know how to do anything else, not even to cook.

Jean Jacques Annaud

at france info

You will follow the teaching at the Louis-Lumière School and come out of a larger education than the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies (IDHEC) in the direction section. Was it important for you to already master things, to learn?

I have sometimes been criticized for being a good technician, as if someone said to a writer: “It’s grammar and syntax“, well it helps! That is, once you have mastered the technology, you can spin around. When I wrote the manuscript, I immediately write afterwards the technical breakdown, where I ask for the material I need. If I do not I do not know what it’s for, the material, I can not write it. And if I do not write it, no one orders it. And if no one orders, we want a banal film, because there will not be. appropriate equipment.

I have the impression that mastering all that, having worked, above all, has given you the opportunity to seek your independence.

When I was quite young, I was offered children’s movies, that is, commercials. I made 400. But what was very strange was that I did not want to make commercials. I said: no to everything. I had one thing I said: no, I do not have time off until November, but it did not work then, I said straight: no, because your thing stinks. But then they answered me:Oh yes ! What else would you see? “ So I just said what I had in mind, “Well, that’s fine, do it“Suddenly I was standing with the hot potato, but had my freedom to make the movie I suggested. And I was still making 400 movies, I was making 300 of them in full freedom.

You have aroused the interest of others. Like François Truffaut, who will really care about you, who will like the way you work. It’s he who will introduce you to Claude Berri, and who will give birth victory by singing (1976). It’s your first “baby” and it will not be easy at first, but you have not given up. You had the intuition that it was a part of you and you want to rework this movie, also rework the soundtrack.

It’s a movie that’s very similar to mine. When I was a very young student at La Fémis, the Ministry of Cooperation was looking for a filmmaker-partner to start Cameroonian cinema. And me, they come to see me, and they say to me, “Do you want to be a soldier or do you prefer to work together? You do not want the uniform etc … “ I say: yes, because it’s in three years, four years. Then comes the day. I thought I would hate it and decided to behave incorrectly to be thrown out. Imagine that the door to the plane opened. I fell in love with Africa. Every day, for a year, I said to myself, but it’s amazing what I’m going through. I met people there who did not speak my language, and I understood them better than my classmates at La Fémis.

This film was also a lesson in humility because it showed you that even if you had beliefs in the beginning, the result was not necessarily the desired reception from the public. But you were looking for this welcome, you were looking for something else.

They said to me, ‘But you’re annoying us with your movie. Movies that talk about Africa and blacks are not successful, who cares. And I said: no, what I want to do is. And I struggled for seven years to make ‘La Victoire en Chantant’.

Jean Jacques Annaud

at france info

I was so grateful for Africa that I said to myself: if one day I have the chance to make a feature film, I will have to make a feature film made in Africa, about Africa, of course. And I did not give up. I said to myself: I want to make this film, which tells about this little story about the war between the Germans and the French through African intermediaries.

Result: an Oscar! How did you experience it?

Completely unexpected. First, it was Côte d’Ivoire that presented it, not France. I was told: “Do not come there because people think you are black and they will be disappointed to see that it is a Frenchman who made this film presented by Côte d’Ivoire“And then there was actually no information about France at the time, so I’m waiting for the first info at 6 in the morning. And there I hear on France Inter:”Disappointment for France. It is not Cousins which won an Oscar, but an obscure film from the Ivory Coast“. I did “Yep!” In my mind !

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