Julia Ducournau, director of ‘Titane’: “The rage of my film is born from the fact of being a woman”

She has been the second woman to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 30 years. This French director has reached the top of cinema with 37 years and a shocking film about the body and identity that hits theaters this weekend

At just 37 years old, French director and screenwriter Julia Ducournau made history last summer by becoming the second woman – after Jane Campion with The piano – to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the first to do so alone. And he has achieved it with Titanium a subversive tale of terror, in which we find a dangerous and disturbing protagonist with too much affection for cars, and little love for humanity, with a most atypical story of love and salvation, where we get to listen to La Macarena, during a cardiac massage, and that raises more questions than answers in the mind of the viewer for days.

‘Titane’ wins the Palme d’Or after causing several people to abandon the screening and makes history at Cannes

The director signs a fierce reflection (and punk) -as well as fascinating- about salvation, the body, gender and identity. Not suitable for all audiences, but highly recommended for those looking for a good setback in the cinema seat. Its creator, and especially her audacious speech and intense gaze, imposes almost as much as her film. Receive SensaCine at the San Sebastian Festival, in rigorous black, where his film was screened in the Perlak section, exhausting the five sessions in which it was programmed. The meeting was barely 10 minutes. But they were worth it.

Question: Where does the rage and violence of ‘Titane’ come from?
Answer: That rage and violence arise from being a woman. But I understand that this question arises because Alexia was not an easy character to write. Even for me it was difficult to identify with her. In the first 15 minutes of the film it is very difficult to empathize with her. It’s hard to connect with someone who has no emotions, and who rejects humanity in a drastic sense. So it was very difficult at the beginning because when you write characters at least you have to understand him or her, and that didn’t happen to me with Alexia.

In fact, I also ask myself the same question. I think of that scene that I wrote at the beginning in which that fan grabs her face and starts kissing her against her will, which is a very ambiguous scene, because she is a murderer and would kill anyone, but in this particular context she is being victim of sexual assault …

Audrey Diwan, winner of the Venice Film Festival: “We are living the revolution of women in cinema and I am proud to be part of it”

Q: So it somehow justifies what the character does …
R: Well, I think about the fact that in public spaces, especially in public transport, as a woman you have a very different attitude than a man, because you have to constantly plan strategies. You have to face your own fears. In a subway car you see yourself wondering if they are going to touch you, or grab you, or are you going to experience some kind of assault and where to locate yourself to be safer. And this difference in the way that women and men have to deal with public spaces in a situation of inequality, offends me and angers me. And the second thing that annoys me is when I think about how a man comes to assault a woman, and rape her in the subway or anywhere else, how can it be that he never comes to consider that she can retaliate -like Alexia-, or that she can carry a weapon or be a martial arts expert and can really hurt her.

The terrible truth behind it is that the moment you are assaulted you are frozen, immobile, and it is normal, it is a normal reflection of your mind. You cannot accept that reality because it is too horrible. He doesn’t even think about it.

We as women do not think that in an assault we are going to defend ourselves violently. That also made me sick and mad because it basically means that as women we are designated victims by default, and we will never be seen as a potential attacker or oppressor. And I think Alexia’s anger and violence come from here.

Q: You are the second woman in 28 years to win the Cannes Palme d’Or. What does it mean for you?
R: I’m sure, because I discussed it with the jury that there is no relationship in which I have won the Palme d’Or and the fact of being a woman. I think the debate we have now as a society can be misinterpreted. In fact, several women on the jury confirmed it to me. After the ceremony, I met the women of the jury separately in various places throughout the night, and they all assured me that I had won but not because I was a woman. And I thought it was the most beautiful and powerful thought they could give me. And what’s amazing is that they didn’t have any kind of conversation or debate about it, but they all had an impulse to tell me this. And for me this is female solidarity and the fact that it was the women of the jury who came to tell me, I especially liked it. Because none of the men on the jury would have understood that that was important to me.

It would ruin the entire path traced if she had the slightest suspicion that the award had been for being a woman. It would have been horrible.

Q: What message does a movie send to the world punk Like yours with such a powerful message about the body, identity and women, and made by a woman triumphs at Cannes?
R: For me it was very important the moment when I was on stage with many mixed feelings, but at that moment i felt as if i had seen history in motion and that is why it is so important and so shocking. I really feel like something is happening here just because I’m the second to do it. I’m not sure what Jane Campion He felt that sensation when he received the Palme d’Or because he was the only one, and that moment was the exception.

But being the second to win the Palme d’Or, seeing myself is no longer an exception. And I had that thought that there would be a time when there would be a third, a fourth … And it will never be an exception again, nor will we have to wait another 28 years to get there. And there is that feeling that you are being part of a very progressive moment, and very satisfying.

P: You are the scriptwriter and director of the film. What cost you more to build the character or bring it to reality?
R: P There is no difference between writing and directing and post-production. It is the same gesture. Okay, you write the story in the script but by choosing everything on the set, the angle, the costumes … you keep writing the story. And every time the story is getting more precise. And then when it’s time to edit and it’s a new rewrite, in fact editing is a lot like writing a script, except that in between you have the filming. Telling a story from script to post-production is the same move for me.

San Sebastián 2021 Day 1: Reunion with cinema and humor with ‘Official Competition’ and ‘One Second’, Zhang Yimou’s love letter to celluloid

Q: After everything you’ve read about your film, do you think what you wanted to tell was understood?
R: I really don’t believe that any movie or artwork is made to give answers or a certain message. I don’t think being an artist is about that. Giving answers is something that google can do if you need an answer about something, google gives it to you. I think that my film, more than giving answers, what it does is that it raises questions for you. I am very happy that it has had that trigger effect on the viewer, that people write about it, talk about it, that it serves to have discussions about it, and also to generate internal debates. It is that cinema and art are about that, I do not care so much if they liked it or not, but that it makes them ask themselves questions. And it’s the only way we can move on. Art is an advance for humanity with everything an artist does. So I’m delighted that you tell me this, and I can’t give you a message or an answer because I don’t have one.

Q: In your film Cronenberg resonates, but what have been the references to make Titanium?
R: References, I have tons, but we can better talk about influences. You have your own background culture behind you that comes from your family, or the choices you made when you were a teenager, which is also important, and even the clash between the two is very interesting. But it’s fun because obviously

Cronenberg is very important, because it was very foundational in my life, the moment I discovered it and the way I did it. Because I discovered it by myself, I was not with friends, nor with my family, it was something very direct. And I took it very personally. And I saw the beauty that David Cronenberg wanted to show, that other people called terror, but I only saw beauty and that was very foundational.

AND There are many other influences in the film, for example a lot of painting, a lot of photography, such as Robert Mapplethorpe contrasts in terms of contrasts, Dan Golding for energy, a lot of Magritte, for things related to the use of symbols and contrasts, Fortunately I think it is absolutely crazy trying to make something from scratch. We are telling stories and these stories were already told 10,000 years ago and in the end we are talking about humanity, so we are. telling the same story. It is your point of view that is important, your own vision, your subjectivity.

Cannes Day 7: Day of fantastic hardcore with the tremendous ‘The Innocents’ and ‘Titane’