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Cinema is Freedom: Interview with Antonin Peretjako director of THE RENDEZ VOUS OF DEJA VU

On the occasion of the First Look festival at the Museum of Moving Image, Florence Almozini interviewed Antonin Peretjako, the director of THE RENDEZ VOUS OF DÉJÀ VU, the festival closing night feature. First Look is MoMI’s annual showcase for inventive new international cinema and is celebrating this year its third anniversary.

Florence Almozini: Antonin, first of all, congratulations on the amazing response to your film LA FILLE DU 14 JUILLET (THE RENDEZ VOUS OF DÉJÀ VU), which premiered at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight and is will have its US premiere at the Museum of the Moving Image‘s prestigious First Look festival. This is your first feature film, after having made several short films. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a young filmmaker and about the process of making this film?

Antonin Peretjatko: Making this film was very difficult. In France comedies are difficult to make when you are not in the star system. Especially if your comedy is very visual. As all the film commissions that give funding make their choices mostly based on scripts, it's difficult to receive financing as it is difficult to describe visual gags with words.

That's why characters in French comedies talk a lot, you don’t have to explain dialogues whereas when you want to do visual gags, you have to describe them a little bit, it's like explaining a joke to a person who didn't understand it the first time, and it's not easy to make him laugh is it?

"The Rendez-vous of Deja Vu" is a low budget movie and we had to shoot for 3 weeks, stop and then shoot for another 3 weeks 12 months later.

That was challenging but I had to use these difficulties and turn them into a good thing for the movie. I edited the first shots and then went back and rewrote parts of the script: I added the scene in the snow, also I notice that I need more close-ups.

12 months after the first shoot, the president of France changed, so I went to shoot again and realized I could have a beginning with Sarkozy and Hollande which can give a satirical sense to the whole story.

F.A: Starting with simple premises such as falling in love or going on summer vacations, your film is wonderfully absurd and comical, full of visual gags and inventions. Could you talk to us about your film's influences and inspirations?

A.P: The influences and inspirations are in the papers, news, everywhere...

I think that an author's work is to propose a view about society. I think our world is absurd, and life also.

Some people can't stand this point of view, maybe they don't accept their own life's absurdity.

F.A: Seeing your film, I was reminded of directors such as Sophie Letourneur, Sébastien Betbeder, Justine Triet or Guillaume Brach whom I can identify as a group or collective of a new wave of French cinema. As a filmmaker, do feel close to any other contemporary French filmmakers?

A.P:  If we feel close, it's in the way we make movies: low budget movies and freedom. What is very interesting is that these people don't come from a specific school, we don't have the same producers or press attaché or distributor, so it's not a marketing group. We come from very different origins: some are annuitant, aristocrats, bourgeois and others like me come from poor families. These different origins have power because as people around 35 years old, we don't have the same preoccupations in life, we see things differently, so our movies are quite different

If we can identify as a group, it's because we are united around one idea: freedom in cinema.