Lionel Baier • Regista di Continental Drift (in the south)

– CANNES 2022: Il regista svizzero parla della terza parte della sua tetralogia sulla costruzione dell’Europa

This article is available in English.

Swiss filmmaker Lionel Bayer presented his latest film, Continental Drift (South) [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
intervista: Lionel Baier
scheda film
]
in the Directors’ Fortnight of the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

Cineuropa: This film is the third part of a tetralogy on European construction, after Stealth [+leggi anche:
trailer
scheda film
]
and Long wave [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
intervista: Lionel Baier
festival scope
scheda film
]
. How did you approach it?

Lionel Bayer: The subject of migrants was interesting because I saw images on television, like everyone else. I was obviously shocked and surprised by what I saw, but even more by the reactions we Europeans had. There is almost a strange pleasure in revealing our pettiness and inability to welcome people. What does this crisis say about us? between our desire to want to help while receiving confirmation that this is indeed a disaster in the Mediterranean? We say we have to do something. It sounds like it’s empathy for others, but maybe it’s just self-hatred; “we are the bad guys, the consumers, the westerners, etc.” So I went to see how the reception of migrants was organized and I was surprised by all the attractions around the camps: food trucks for people who came to take photos and selfies through the fence, cruises stopped to visit the Outside the camps, journalists from all over Europe were throwing migrants away, avoiding women who were too veiled, etc. So I wanted to show this reality by telling myself that it said something about us, about the relationship we have with foreigners.

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Why did you shoot the film in Sicily?
He introduced the film into the history of Italian comedies, a tone that the film wanted to recapture. These very popular films of the 60s and 70s like those of Dino Risi were very political, like the French films with Pierre Richard, with anti-system characters, dreamers, supporters of a return to ecology, “Gaston Lagaffe”, precursors of many things. .

To this backdrop, you have added a mother/son conflict which is also a conflict between generations.
I taught for a long time in a film school in Lausanne and in 2016 I started to notice that the students, instead of taking the long trip to Rome and Athens that we did in the 19th century to do our humanities, were traveling all over Europe to help out for two or three weeks. I made fun of them a little, of this selective humanitarian work, of these low-cost holidays in Calais or elsewhere. Then I said to myself that thinking like that was a bit of an old fart. Because if I was their age, I would do this. And at their age, we supported the abolition of apartheid, Hands Off My Friend (an anti-racist movement in France in the 1980s), etc. There was also naivety, beautiful naivety, and telling young people they are fickle is bullshit, a condescending thing to do. So I wanted to present that, but also show the people we blame, Frontex and the bureaucrats in Brussels. Because this bureaucracy, even if it is appalling pushed to the extreme, is nevertheless an emanation of democracy. Getting organized at 27 requires systems that produce a lot of paperwork but still ensure fairness. European coastguards, for example, often come from immigrant families. So I wanted the film to show both sides. And sometimes when the son and the mother argue, I agree with both: with him when he says “you are incompetents just there to count the dead” and with her when she replies “if we are no longer there, it is the fascists who arrive”.

Is it also an intimate conflict inside a man; a son who was abandoned at a young age by a mother who left to live her life as a woman who loves women?
Sexuality and intimacy are also always very political. We are never one thing but several things at the same time. It shows the loneliness of this woman and there was also the idea of ​​the Franco-German couple, the famous Franco-German driving force that we often talk about. It made me laugh that they were two lesbians and that they often didn’t understand each other’s desires; the French woman would like to make love in the bathroom and the German woman would stop her by telling her to be unreasonable within reason. The Frenchwoman tells him that it means nothing and that there is the tragedy because Europe can only function if there is will between the peoples. We can create all the political structures we want: if people don’t want to be together, we don’t exist.

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