NEWS: NOVEMBER 2016
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28 November 2016
This past week
ALONE IN BERLIN opened in France and
Vincent conducted a few interviews. You can access the i24news
video interview by clicking on the photo below.
Le Figaro featured this photo of
Vincent online but didn't include their interview.
Here are a few questions Vincent answered for
You took nearly ten years to make this
film. Why such obstinacy?
Vincent: I read the novel by Hans
Fallada in 2007, and I had a shock. At last I heard the voices
of those ordinary Germans who had not
supported the rise of Nazism and realized
the daily life of these people who were
obliged to live with their convictions under a totalitarian
regime. My paternal grandfather was
executed very young by Franco's
fascist regime. And my maternal family had to flee Nazi Germany.
My mother was born in 1939. Her parents, like many others, chose
the exodus to the East and spent five years on the road before
they could return to their country after the war. Having German
blood begged many questions, and for
the first time a book gave me some answers. When I went to
Germany in the footsteps of my ancestors, I realized that no
member of my family had been a member of the Nazi Party.
However, not adhering was considered an act of resistance.
Why did you shoot the film in English?
Vincent: Despite the international
success of "Good bye, Lenin!"
White Ribbon", we
did not manage to attract German financiers. I was about
to give up when, in 2009, the book was released in English
in the United States at Melville House
under the title "Every
in the United Kingdom at Penguin Books
under the title "Alone in
Berlin". The novel quickly sold more
than half a million copies. So I read it in English, and then
I understood that morality was changed. That this narrative
concerned not only Nazi Germany, but any act of resistance of
any kind and wherever it may be.
The character of Escherich is interesting, because he is not
Nazi but still responsible for finding those who are considered
traitors to the fatherland. He is under a terrible pressure from
the SS. It's a bit of each of us, this character. With our
doubts, our conscience, our weaknesses...
Does the film echo the rise of populism
that we live today?
Vincent: Unquestionably. What are
these postcards if not the tweets of today? It should not be
forgotten that in the 1920s the Germans mocked the Nazis by
saying that the party would never go anywhere. History shows us
that if we are not attentive, it can happen again. The film, of
course, reflects on the rise of extremes that we see reappearing
all over Europe.
Here are a few more production
photos from HOCHELAGA, LAND OF SOULS, filmed in Montreal last
month. Wonderful costuming!
Tuesday Vincent attended the International Film Festival of History
of Pessac, where his film, ALONE IN BERLIN,
was screened in competition. The theme of the 27th edition is
"Culture and Freedom". Describing his film, he said, "What's
important is to provoke emotions, questions, make people think...
What would I have done in such as case? It does not belong to the
German past. Ever time I present the film, I am told that it echoes
what is happening today with the rise of extremism. It changes the
morality of history a bit. It's a film for all of us." Here is a
French link to a Pessac interview. The film will premiere in
France on Wednesday.
As for future directing
possibilities, Vincent admits he
has another project in mind, an original idea on
which he remains discreet. He only says,
"It will be a psychological thriller. I
intend to do the casting in January and
film before the summer."
About a month ago, the
Italian edition of GQ featured an interview with Vincent since
ALONE IN BERLIN had just arrived to
open in Italian cinemas. This gave him the opportunity to discuss
more of his personal thoughts on his film.
He told GQ - "I share the idea
that Germany was the first country invaded by the Nazis as expressed
by Sebastien Haffner in his most famous book; I felt this fear
perfectly described in Fallada's book. He answered many of the
questions I had asked on the German side of my family, decimated
like many others in Europe divided between fascism and communism. My
parents, a Spanish father and a German mother, are children of that
generation that have suffered much. As their son, I inherited many
of those questions that were left unanswered. It took time,
determination and a certain stubbornness but I felt a need to make
this movie. I meant it as a testimony and a tribute to all those
people who have struggled with their own means against the Nazi
monster. It is as if through this film I speak for my own ancestors.
And there I found the answers I was looking for.
Vincent believes today's
hyper-connected world can still encourage silent revolutions. He
says, "For me the postcards that these characters write are the
ancestors of text messages and tweets. The Quangels sent messages
that aimed to make people understand that the world was in an
impasse, pushing to break down a wall. They denounced the ignominy
of the actions of those who were at the helm of a country in the
grip of madness."
And what kind of reactions has
the film received? Vincent responds, "Very beautiful, the latest
from Israel where it has just arrived. It's an important story that
needs to be seen because it portrays the daily life of ordinary
citizens under the Third Reich and takes a new look at the Germans
during World War II. Berlin and the French public have also reacted
positively. At every screening, I see people very shaken by the
story. The film is coming out in about thirty countries so I'm
getting ready to accompany it as I'm able to. In the meantime, I'll
be on the set of the upcoming film directed by Roman Polanski.
I have always dreamed of working with him."
That's true! Vincent has been
cast in the French film, D'APRÈS
UNE HISTOIRE VRAIE (Based on a True Story), from the novel by
Delphine de Vigan. Filming began this week in the Perche region in
the village of Chapelle-Royale. Roman's wife, Emmanuelle Seigner
also stars. Filming is expected to continue in the municipality of
Altars-Villevillon but also in Paris. This drama thriller tells the
story of a writer who goes through
a tough period after the release of her latest book, as she gets
involved with an obsessive admirer. Here's a
photo of Vincent and Roman taken six years ago. Favorite
Polanski film? "Bitter Moon". In fact, that's where "Coymoon"
comes from (Peter) Coy(ote) and (Bitter) Moon. Coymoon
Creations also manages sites for
Update: Although filming has begun on the
Polanski project, Vincent is presently in Nice on location for Neil
Jordan’s RIVIERA, a high-profile TV crime series.
will be in attendance at an
advanced screening of ALONE IN BERLIN
(Seul dans Berlin) in Lyon on Wednesday evening at 8 pm. It is being
sponsored by L’Association Enfants Cancers Santé
at Cinéma Pathé Bellecour.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director. As
many of you know, it
took Vincent many years to bring this project to fruition. In
2007, Vincent read German author Hans
Fallada’s anti-Nazi novel "Every Man Dies
Alone". Originally published in 1947, the
book had deep meaning for him because his
mother was born in Germany in 1939 and the
family suffered under the Nazi regime. After
researching his German roots,
Vincent was determined to turn the book into a film.
He says, "It’s a story that had
to be told. It became an obsession that
never left me."
He continues, "What was most attractive to
me was the very simple story of the Quangels. They’re ordinary
people who do something quite extraordinary. They’re heroes but
they’re reachable heroes. What they did
was something anybody can do, but nobody was doing because it was
"Every Man Dies Alone"
has been adapted before, twice for German television,
but Vincent and his Paris-based
producer, Master Movie’s Marco Pacchioni, found French financiers
were not interested in telling a German story. Then, at Cannes in
2009, Vincent met X-Filme’s Stefan Arndt,
producer of that year’s Palme d’Or winner "The
White Ribbon". The book was one of Arndt’s
favorites and he agreed to partner,
although they discovered German financiers were not that keen
"I was convinced that with the background
of the Palme d’Or, an Academy Award nomination [for
"The White Ribbon"],
German film prizes, European Film Awards, I really thought I’d be
able to finance it," says Arndt.
"And I failed."
At that stage, the plan was to shoot in German, but when the book
was translated into English for the first time in 2009 and became an
international bestseller, it suddenly made sense to make it in
English, opening up potential financing streams and audiences.
Vincent determined to tell a universal
story rather than a specifically German one.
He thought, "Why tell this story to the
German people, they know their story. The
Germans are doing such fantastic work on not forgetting what
happened. And so the idea with Stefan was to open it up and to tell
it everywhere, to make it more international."
Vincent then began work on a new script,
in collaboration with Good Bye Lenin! screenwriter Achim von Borries
and overseen by James Schamus, who joined the project as a producer.
Following the 2014 Berlinale, Paul Trijbits and Christian Grass of
UK-based FilmWave also came on board as producers. Budgeted at
$16.4m (€15m), the project was set up as a Germany-UK-France
To replicate wartime Berlin, the filmmakers shot briefly in the
German capital but mostly in Görlitz, where "The
Grand Budapest Hotel" and
"The Reader" had
previously been filmed. The production team renovated an empty
building to stand in for 55 Jablonski Street, the apartment house
where Otto and Anna reside in close proximity to their neighbors
- a retired judge, an elderly Jewish lady
and members of the SS.
Vincent says Emma
Thompson was the only person he considered for the role of
Anna Quangel. Luckily, the Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter
was also a fan of Fallada. Mark Rylance was cast as Otto but had to
bow out due to a scheduling conflict, and Brendan
Gleeson signed on.
"I think Emma always wanted to play this
part and she’s wonderful," says Trijbits.
"She is able to transport us into
Jablowski Street and you can totally imagine her living there in the
world we’ve created."
So much so, says Vincent that when both
Thompson and Gleeson first stepped into their characters’ apartment,
they rearranged the props. "She moved some
chairs, some furniture. She recreated a place for herself. He did
the same thing, as if they were really moving into that apartment
"Otto Quangel is described in the book as
a slightly different kind of character but Brendan brings such an
intense, powerful, quiet but hugely rich, nuanced performance,"
"He’s an incredible actor,"
says Vincent. "I
was so lucky to have him play that part, because he doesn’t show
anything but you feel so much when he’s Otto. He’s so intense. He
did so much research. It was wonderful to work with him."