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CANNES 2012 | Xavier, Anyways: Quebec's Dolan On Making 'Laurence,' Returning to Cannes and Going Hollywood

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 18, 2012 at 9:24AM

It's been four years since Xavier Dolan first came to the Cannes Film Festival. Only 19 at the time, he quickly gained international admiration after his film, "I Killed My Mother," swept the awards of the festival's Director's Fortnight section.
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Laurence Anyways

What hasn't changed for Dolan is his film is again having its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Many had expected it to be Dolan's first film in official competition, but instead it was programmed in the Un Certain Regard category, where "Heartbeats" screened as well.  Dolan admits he was quite disappointed by that decision, but still seemed excited for his third trip to the Croisette.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Cannes," he said. "it really is the best place for a movie to be. The whole industry is unified by this cinematic rendezvous. So for me there's always this emotional resonance. When I actually arrive in Cannes in the car that gets me from the airport or where I came in from, there is this emotion because it's the place where everything started."

But Dolan confesses that the speculation that surrounded "Laurence" potentially making into the official competition has made him a bit more anxious than usual heading into the festival.

"My true anxiety -- naively and perhaps pretentiously -- is that people will see the film and they will say they can see why it's not in the official competition," he said.

Dolan explained that because he put so much of himself into his work, he feels there's a lot at stake for him personally in its reception.

"These are not superhero movies that take place in unrealistic cities," he laughed. "I'm in that scale of movies that are pretty close to my skin. That hit close to home. I don't have the budget of Hollywood movie, and I'm in a very personal territory. For me, people loving or hating my films always reflects an appreciation or a depreciation of the person I am. I don't want to be narcissistic, but there's so much. Everything people say, everything people think, whether it's my left side or my right side. There's a lot of me in these movies. If people find them boring, the message I get is that I'm a boring person. If people find them pretentious, the message I get is that I should use a bit less slow-motion shots."

As for those Hollywood movies, Dolan is quick to admit he is not immune to their pleasures.

"My true anxiety -- naively and perhaps pretentiously -- is that people will see the film and they will say they can see why it's not in the official competition."

"You know, most of the time -- to be honest -- when I go to the movies I need a break," he said. "I need some sort of escape. I work a lot. I just want to go see a movie and have a good time. I don't want to penetrate some polished weird brain and read subtitles. I do that enough here in my home. I mean, I'll do it, but most of the time I'm going to head for some big entertainment which will could be very successful or just suck, it depends. But it often gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure."

Dolan would also be into the idea of directing a Hollywood film.

"What happens with American directors is they do their debut features independently most of the time and then they establish their name and fame and 10 years later they get to do their big big movies with their original script," he said. "I don't want to go to Hollywood and do this studio movie. I want a studio to eventually produce one of my films, when I have the maturity to do so."

So what might that film look like?

"A Christopher Nolan film like 'Batman,'" he laughed. "Oh, that'd be so much fun. I would also definitely direct something like 'The Avengers.' Or I'd love to do a 'Titanic'-type film inspired by the Costa Concordia. I would direct the shit out of that. I would love that. All these big crane shots. All these extras."

His ideal Hollywood star for this fantasy (at least for now) project? Taylor Kitsch.

"For me he's got this smile and this look," he said of the actor.  "There's something going on behind these eyes and it's not just the Calvin Klein-model thing. I don't think it's temporary. I think he'll have a very healthy career."

The same can easily be said of Dolan, who is already in the midst of pre-production on another film -- an adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard's play "Tom à la Ferme." "Ferme" follows a gay man, Tom, who is in the midst of depression following the death of his boyfriend.

"He goes to the country in order to go to the funeral of his boyfriend," Dolan explains. "And he meets with the mother and brother of his boyfriend and realizes they are absolutely unaware of their relationship. The brother is rather brutal, and essentially takes the character hostage."

Dolan said that Michel Marc Bouchard is currently in the midst of writing the first draft.

"He's going to send it to me, and I'm going to rewrite it and send it back to him," he said. "And then we'll work together. But that might be in one year or four years or who knows. So it might not be my next film."

Whatever Dolan's next film ends up being, it's surely to end up just as anticipated as "Laurence." And perhaps this time around, it'll finally take him into official competition.

This article is related to: Laurence Anyways, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Dolan





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