While Roman Polanski’s legal crusade to return to the United States wasn’t addressed today at the press conference for his Cannes Film Festival title Based on a True Story, the Oscar-winning director was asked about the Netflix controversy which has weathered the festival. Many stars and filmmakers such as Emma Thompson and Ben Stiller spoke about their concerns in the streaming vs. big screen war during the earlier part of the fest, but for Polanski, he’s not bothered by the hot topic.
“In regards to to the tendency of TV series and big firms encroaching on the festival, it’s beyond my possibility of analysis,” said Polanski when asked about the Netflix controversy on the Croisette this year, “I think the future will tell you what’s happening. I don’t think it’s a basic threat for cinema. People will go to the movies, not because of better sound, projection or seats, they go to the cinema because they can participate with the audience around them.”
The Oscar-winning director continued, “I remember when the gadget the Walkman became popular. They said that was the end of concerts, but since then there have been crowds as large as 100,000. People like experiencing things and spectacles together. That’s the main reason why they go to the cinema. It’s a different experience to watch Borat alone or in a packed cinema with a laughing audience.”
However Polanski said that the bombardment of devices interferes with the truth in our modern age, hence the notion of based on true story isn’t so true anymore. “You cannot rely on a photograph as a document of the truth,” said the director referring to how easy it is to Photoshop images. “There’s an appetite for truth. When TV and radio audiences hear information that we believed in yesterday, it’s totally false today,” said Polanski.
Polanski’s new movie is a feature adaptation of Delphine de Vigan’s novel, scripted by Personal Shopper filmmaker Oliver Assayas. The movie follows two women, one an author, another an envious ghost writer (played respectively by Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Eva Green) who develop a close, tortured relationship. Asked whether he inserts his voice into movies, Polanski said, “I truly don’t think about my own story when I work on a film. I think about the story I have to tell before the cameras of my movie.”
Conversation turned to working with Seigner, who Polanski first cast opposite Harrison Ford in 1988’s Frantic, “We have a professional relationship. It is easy to work with one’s wife, but what is difficult is that we go back home after a long day’s work. It’s hard to be a husband to an actress who is a star. When I go back home, I like to forget the set, where as Emmanuelle likes to talk about her day at work, that’s the only difficulty.”
Then an Italian reporter asked Polanski, “Is it easier to direct a woman or live with them?” to which the director jokingly responded, “I don’t know how someone so smart could ask stupid questions. It’s evident it’s easy to work with them than live with them!”
Sony Classics has Based on a True Story in the U.S. while Lionsgate International is handling foreign with Mars in France.