The opening night of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance showcased not only France’s cinematic talent, but also a yearning for universal togetherness and camaraderie when the world needs it most.
Wednesday night marked the commencement of the 22nd Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a film festival acclaimed for it’s showcasing of versatile and contemporary French cinema. This year’s lineup – featuring films such as Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of The Moon and Francois Ozon’s Frantz – kicked off at the Walter Reade Theater with the North American premiere of Etienne Comar’s Django.
The red carpet premiere of the film based on the life and times of renowned jazz virtuoso Django Reinhardt brought out a variety of establish veterans and welcomed a mix of talented newcomers to the big stage. Diversity is key in this year’s offering, the 23 films in this year’s showcase and the accompanying programming focus on and thrive off of the ways the French influence the many cultures and traditions not only in the North America, but worldwide.
We caught up with Etienne Comar on the red carpet to ask him a few questions about Django and the excitement of being in New York City for the North American premiere.
What inspired you to make the film?
It is not a bio picture in the traditional sense with all the life of the character. I just chose two years of his life during the end of the war. And it was very important for me to portray a musician, an artist in a period of time that was very hard. I think there’s a lot of correspondence in between this period of time and what you can feel today. It was interesting to have this character to see and to understand for a musician what did he do to continue to play his music.
Because music is something universal like freedom and a melting pot, and jazz is also like that. Jazz, during the war is very interesting to understand because it’s a complex … It’s a contradiction between the freedom of the jazz and the hard time of the people during war. I feel it was very interesting to focus on this period of time.
What was one of your greatest challenges while working on the film?
It was my first film. To debut a custom piece with music with a lot of people, there were many challenges to make it. I can’t answer which was the most difficult. All of them were important and for me it was very good moment to have those challenges to make it. Because with Reda [Kateb] it was also for him his first big role. We were very close and it was like ‘we’re going to achieve that.’
How does it feel to be in New York?
New York is very strong for me because I have a special soul for Django tonight because he was fascinated by this town. And making music, making jazz was very important for him. And he came here just after the war. At Carnegie Hall he played many concerts there. Our hotel is just near the Carnegie Hall also, it’s very strange and it’s very moving to be just here and thinking of him.
The series will last from March 1 – 12, for scheduling and ticket pricing you can get more information here.