The latest movie from French filmmaker Claire Denis, Fire (or Both Sides Of The Blade), premieres tonight at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Ahead of the screening, Denis, her producer Olivier Delbosc, and their cast, French acting royalty duo Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon, co-starring in a movie for the first time, discussed the process of making the film during the Covid lockdown in France.
“The only way we could communicate for a few months was by telephone,” said Delbosc on the development process, which involved Denis writing the screenplay with Christine Angot. “We only got together visually when we had the first version of the screenplay.”
The movie was both developed and shot during different stages of lockdown in France, but Denis said the unusual process actually helped to bring her and her cast closer together, making them a filmmaking family.
“There was a trust. We could go very far without being afraid. It was only possible because Juliette and Vincent were like fighters, and me and Eric Gautier [cinematographer] were running after them, there was one take, two takes, never more. We were going very far. We were exhausted, relentless,” Denis commented.
“I think we were quite brave to make this film. It’s a very tricky film, it wasn’t simple for any of us. It transformed us, shook us, we didn’t remain the same. The result is the film you see,” added Binoche.
The director also described Both Sides Of The Blade – which is the English translation of the French title of the movie (Avec amour et acharnement) and comes from a Tindersticks song of the same name that appears in the film – as the “real title” of the picture because it “describes the movie”. Despite this, the film looks set to be marketed as Fire in English-speaking territories.
Denis refused to be drawn on whether her next pic, The Stars At Noon, which stars Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn, might be ready in time for this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May. The director said the editing process had only just begun, describing the filmmaking process as “insecure terrain” and “fragile”.
Delbosc produced Fire through his banner Curiosa Films. Wild Bunch International and Anton are handling sales, IFC Films swopped on U.S. rights pre-festival.
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