Exclusive Interview with the Movie Director: Artist and the Model

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Exclusive Interview with the Movie Director The Artist and the Model

An exclusive interview with TheBlot Magazine with the movie director Fernando Trueba has produced some insightful thoughts about his movie “The Artist and the Model’.

Stop. Look. Listen. “The Artist and the Model” is a French-language film shot in dramatic black and white by cinematographer Daniel Vilar. The most striking thing about it at first is the surprisingly slow pace. Just as with meditation, your mind can stop racing with a few deep inhales. As you exhale, you’ll find you are in it. You’ve accepted the lingering camera and unhurried unfolding of the beautiful yet simplistic story.

The movie takes you back to 1943 in a rural setting of German-occupied France. The artist is an elderly sculptor named Marc Cros [French star Jean Rochefort]. Cros knows that his time left on earth is limited and wants to make the most of every hour. He continues to recreate the female form, first in sketches, then in clay. His friends include Cezanne and Matisse and during one touching scene, the way he discusses a Rembrandt drawing will make you fall in love with him.

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The rating: 4 out 5 stars: The Artist and the Model

Mercè, the art model, is played by Spanish newcomer Aida Folch. Her natural beauty and delicious laugh are captivating but what’s even more fascinating is the complex character she plays. We find out that Mercè has fled from a concentration camp in Spain and now helps political activists escape to freedom through the mountains from Spain to France.

Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba and co-writer of the script has been a filmmaker for three decades. He has worked as writer, director and producer. 1992’s “Belle Epoque” starred ingénue Penelope Cruz and won Trueba the Oscar and BAFTA for Foreign Language Film. When he accepted his Oscar Trueba said, “I would like to believe in God in order to thank Him. But I just believe in Billy Wilder, so thank you, Mr. Wilder.”

Trueba’s “Chico & Rita” was nominated for the 2012 Best Animation Feature Film Oscar. He’s garnered award after award over the years. “The Artist and the Model” earned him a Best Director award at the San Sebastian Film Festival and the movie won Official Selection at both the 2013 San Francisco and Miami International Film Festivals.

The cast of “The Artist and the Model” includes Italian film star Claudia Cardinale as the artist’s loving wife Léa, Chus Lambreave as the dedicated housekeeper María, Götz Otto as Werner, an art historian and Nazi who comes to visit the artist and interview him in order to continue writing his book about the artist’s life.

“The Artist and the Model” is a meditative treasure, especially for those of us racing through life tweeting and texting. “The Artist and the Model” opens in limited release this Friday, August 2, 2013. Drama. Not rated. 105 minutes. French with English subtitles.

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Q&A with Director Fernando Trueba

Fernando Trueba, 58, has had quite a career. He’s a Spanish book editor, screenwriter, film director and producer and worked as a film critic for Spain’s leading daily newspaper El Pais.

Dorri Olds: If you had to sum it up in one sentence, what is “The Artist and the Model” about?

Fernando Trueba: It’s about the importance of art in life. Art is not separate from life. It is part of the air that we breathe. Art is a way to understand and recreate life and has been a human need from the beginning for mankind.

Did you feel simpatico with the artist?

Yes, I really feel close to this character and more so than in any movie before. I feel a lot of things in common with him, especially his view about perfection. Perfection can kill everything in art. You have to escape perfection. Yes, you have to try to do your best, but perfection is not the thing to go after. Emotionalism is important and communication is even more important. Perfection is a cold and mechanical concept.

How did you feel about that powerful scene when the artist explains Rembrandt’s drawing to the model?

The sketch he shows her has very simple lines, but they are so powerful because they capture life. He shows her how the artist was able to show the intimacy of this family using very few “perfect” lines. It is a very good example of conveying emotion with art.

Did you enjoy working with Jean Rochefort?

He is great. Considering his age it’s amazing he takes risks, but he does in every single shot. He’s always looking for something that you can’t reach. Even with his years of experience and honed technique, he is still trying to find the magic of every single moment while seeking the truth.

When you write do you ever feel stuck, or exhausted from editing, and fear you’re not good enough?

Of course. Anyone who writes goes through that. But when I do, I always think, ‘What would Billy Wilder have done?’ He’s the master writer in Cinema. I knew him. I’ve been many times in his office. He asked himself, ‘How would Lovitch have done it? What is the Lovitch solution?’

Lovitch was Billy Wilder’s teacher, right?

Yes, he worked with him a few times before becoming a director. Lovitch was especially elegant with narrative solutions.

What do you hope viewers will be thinking after they’ve seen “The Artist and the Model”?

I would always prefer that they came out of the theater feeling. They can think later. If thinking is not preceded by feeling it is too abstract. Feeling life has to be the beginning of any idea. Abstract ideas are really dangerous. First feel, then think.

Can you tell me why the artist character felt so strongly about olive oil?

I must confess this is one of my private things. We belong to this Mediterranean culture with all this philosophy and nature. Olive oil is a perfect symbol of this ancient civilization I come from.

Do you enjoy writing period pieces?

Yes, in cinema you can find very boring things. Things that can make you not dream anymore about creating movies. With cinema there is a lot of really boring stuff and contemporary life can be boring but movies about the past that go into another world are interesting. This is a film I have carried within me for a long time.

“The Artist and the Model” opens in limited release this Friday, August 2, 2013. Drama. Not rated. 105 minutes. Filmed in black and white by brilliant cinematographer Daniel Vilar. French with English subtitles.

Q&A with Aida Folch, the Captivating Naked Star of the French-language Spanish Movie, “The Artist and the Model”

Can you describe your character?

She is a woman of action. She’s working with the Spanish resistance, helping people to escape. Mercè is discreet and has her own clandestine activity. She is offered this modeling work and decides to take it and learn about art. For me, she’s a modern character.

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Were you comfortable being filmed in the nude?

It was difficult at the first instance. But I dreamed of playing an important character like this for a long time before. I was very conscious that it was important to be naked in this role. Her nakedness forms part of the character. It was a very interesting experience for an actress. For me it was a revelation. It was freeing. I was very comfortable because in this role I have nothing to hide.

What was your character feeling when she touched the artist’s face?

I think a lot of things—admiration, real love—and she wanted to make a gift to him. For me this was the most intimate moment in my acting career.

How did you get along with Jean Rochefort? Was it intimidating to work with a veteran actor?

He is a person very beautiful, a very good actor, and he was always generous. He gave me a lot of things and I learn a lot.

What specifically did he do for you?

He discovered me. He was the passion in this work. He was very engaged and generous. I learned from his passion, the way that Jean approached his work. He’s always taking risks. He’s never just comfortable. He is always fighting. He’s very much like his character. Watching Jean and working with him was an honor. It reconciles my job. In this profession you do so many silly things but, with Jean, he is a real actor and you are not wasting one minute.

“The Artist and the Model” opens in limited release this Friday, August 2, 2013. Drama. Not rated. 105 minutes. Filmed in black and white by brilliant cinematographer Daniel Vilar. French with English subtitles.

 

Dorri Olds is a freelance writer, web designer, and social media consultant. Follow her on Twitter: @DorriOlds Photograph above Courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

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