Exactly 50 years after he shut down the Cannes film festival during the 1968 protests in France, Jean-Luc Godard opened up to the world, on FaceTime. In an unprecedented press conference with an iPhone, the French New Wave master chatted with journalists at the 71st Cannes film festival on Saturday. Only hours after the premiere of his new film, The Image Book, the 88-year-old filmmaker said it was his “courage to imagine” that keeps him going. “Most people today sometimes have the courage to live their lives, but not to imagine their lives. I have the courage,” Godard said.
Sitting in his home in Switzerland and smoking a cigar, Godard said he would continue to make films “ if I am fortunate enough to live a few more years.” Joking with journalists, who asked him questions on the phone, the filmmaker said he studied cinema, by not going to a film school, but to film libraries. “We saw films then that struck us as contemporary, even if they were a 100 years old,” he said, with his spectacles dangling from the edge of his nose. Godard, who has said in the past that actual shooting bored him, explained his style of making films today. “I understand that what is actually important is not actual shooting, but editing.” Elaborating that he could use archival images to talk about the future, the director of films such as Week End and Breathless, quipped: “Filming is a sort of post-production, in fact.”
Godard also used the occasion to explain his famous comment that a film had “a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order”. “I said that quite sometime ago to go against (Steven) Spielberg and others as a joke,” he said. “I said to them that these components should not be in that order. I didn’t make it as a real battle horse,” he added. Asked about violence in his films, including The Image Book, Godard said: “Almost all films I have made did refer to violence. But deep within the images, things are actually calm.”
Recalling the 1968 protests in France that made filmmakers like him demand the shut down of the Cannes festival to support young dissenters, he said he had many memories of the year and the people with him then who are no longer alive. His new film, he said, was made with the support of an NGO after his French producer gave up on the movie. “The film you just saw has a lengthy tale behind it,” he said, in an apparent reference to his decision to talk to the media, something the master director, hasn’t done for decades.
The Image Book, which focuses on the political situation in Europe and the Middle East, follows Godard’s previous venture, Goodbye to Language, which also was part of the competition section in Cannes in 2014. “You know a film is not designed to dictate anything,” he said. “Few films are designed to show what is not happening,” he said, adding, he was not interested in showing what is happening in the world. “He wanted to come to the festival,” said Cannes festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux. “He is in very good shape.”