Alain Cavalier returns to Cannes with Living and Knowing You’re Alive
by Fabien Lemercier
- The director’s new documentary is a tribute to the late Emmanuèle Bernheim, who is at the core of this Camera One-produced film being sold by Pathé
For the sixth time, Alain Cavalier is about to have one of his works showcased in the Cannes Official Selection, as his new documentary opus, Living and Knowing You’re Alive, will be shown as a Special Screening at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival (14-25 May). Having taken part in the competition three times (in 1986 with Thérèse, which won the Jury Prize, in 1993 with Libera me, and in 2011 with Pater [+see also:
interview: Alain Cavalier
film profile]), the French filmmaker has also unveiled two titles in Un Certain Regard: Le Filmeur [+see also:
film profile] in 2005 (honoured with the Prix de l’intimité) and Irène [+see also:
film profile] in 2009.
This time, as is his wont, Alain Cavalier (who is 87 years old and who made his feature debut back in 1961) offers up a highly personal work linked to the late Emmanuèle Bernheim, whom he was friends with for 30 years. They start preparing a film based on the novelist’s autobiography, Tout s’est bien passé (lit. “Everything Went Well”). In it, she tells of how her father asked her to “finish him off” following a cardiovascular event. Cavalier suggests that she play herself and that he play her father. But one winter’s morning, Emmanuèle phones Alain: the shoot will have to be pushed back until the spring, as she needs to go in for an emergency operation…
In order to keep his grief at bay, and to enable Bernheim to remain alive in some way, Alain Cavalier has worked with the images from his video diary, which was updated regularly and which bore witness to the ins and outs of their arrangement, enriching them with new sequences. From the ashes of a film that had seemingly vanished, he makes a film to be rediscovered… "The result I want is a story that is as strong as the one that Emmanuèle and myself were preparing," the filmmaker explained. "Our joy and our anguish have a vitality and immediacy because they were recorded live. My acceptance of the way things are, reinforced by Emmanuèle’s courage and that of her father, cast a soothing light on what I am offering the viewer."
Produced by Michel Seydoux for Camera One, Living and Knowing You’re Alive had a budget of €290,000, including a co-production (and a pre-purchase) by Arte France Cinéma, which is associated with Arte France’s Society and Culture department. Having also been pre-purchased by Ciné+, the movie will be distributed in French theatres by Pathé, which is also taking care of the international sales.
(Translated from French)
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