By Indiewire | Indiewire September 29, 1998 at 2:00AM
"I Stand Alone" with Gaspar Noe, US Distribs Nearing
by Brandon Judell
One of the high spots of this year's New York Film Festival, is Gaspar
Noe's astoundingly written and realized "I Stand Alone." Think Celine
with a splattering of Bukowski. Godard as re-configured by David Lynch.
On the other hand, don't think. Just experience. The film is a dark look
at a white French misanthropic butcher who's certain all the miseries in
his life would dematerialize if Arabs, blacks and gays would be
massacred and if women once again became malleable as the Lord meant
them to be. Although Noe's feature debut has not yet been picked up for US
distribution, Strand Releasing has showed "strong interest" in the film,
along with a number of other distributors.
Amazingly, this is not the most notorious film Mr. Noe has helmed. If
you're born under a lucky star, you'll come across his safe sex short on
heterosexual sodomy commissioned by the French government and sponsored
by such companies as Kodak. If this were ever broadcast on American TV,
Jesse Helms would turn in his grave even before his death.
indieWIRE caught up with this delectable director at the Montreal World
Film Festival, and our conversation went sort of like this:
indieWIRE: Has "I Stand Alone" already opened in France?
Gaspar Noe: No, the end of the year. It was made over 4 years with
absolutely no money because it was refused all around in France. People
said, "Come back with a real film. Not with this. Now do a movie with
actors and with a real script." And it's funny finally because all my
friends who were directing movies under much more normal conditions were
making fun of me. "What are you doing? Why don't you make a normal
movie?" I'm happy that I finished it. We almost went bankrupt in the
middle of the production. I'm happy that I went all the way through and
now it's complete.
iW: This is one of the best written scripts I've ever heard. Are you a
writer? (Noe mistakes "writer" for "reader.")
Noe: No, not at all.
iW: But the screenplay . . .
Noe: I don't read much. I think I read two novels every year and that's
iW: But no one coming away from your film could say less than that
you're a brilliant writer. If your screenplay came out in book form,
people would buy it and be blown away.
Noe: A lot of people tell me that I should. Even if it's just a screenplay
and not a novelized version of the screenplay. They say that I should
iW: Do you know the works of R. Crumb?
Noe: I'm a big, big fan of R. Crumb. In the beginning I wanted to become
a comic book writer.
iW: R. Crumb lives in France. Have you met him?
iW: Would one say the purpose of your film is to expose the in-depth,
emotional life of a bigoted Frenchman who feels he's losing his footing
in his own country and times?
Noe: It could be set in Scotland, in New York or anywhere else. It's
just that the background is France of today. But it's more the movie
about a man and his moral and existentialist problems. There's something
that you have in France today that you don't really have in Brazil or in
other countries. It's like .... There's some kind of selfishness that
you only find in Europe.
iW: We've always had a picture of a Frenchman as a white chap with a
beret whose family has lived for centuries in France. Now there are so
many minorities there: blacks, Arabs, gays. A minority member who sees
your film will no doubt exclaim, "Oh, my God! This is whom we're dealing
with. This is the only film to ever capture the inner workings of a
person like this."
Noe: In France, it's weird because the minorities don't behave as
minorities as they do in North America. It's just like they want to be
part of the whole thing. Also in France, you have a very odd thing. For
example, some people tell you, "Oh, this guy is French and that guy is
Jewish. It's like you cannot be Jewish and French at the same time. If a
guy is black, they wouldn't say he is French. They'd say he's black.
When they say "French," it means that a man's white, and his
grandparents were French.
iW: Moving on to inspiration . . .
Noe: There was one movie that really inspired this one: "Straw Dogs."
You know the rape scene in "Straw Dogs" was so powerful. That was the
only time I ever walked out of a theater because I was so scared.
There's another film called "Angst" or "Fear" which in France was
called "Schizophrenia" but it was banned theatrically. It's got an X-rating
so it never came out. It could maybe come out today. It's Austrian. One
of the masterpieces of the decade. The director never did another movie
though. He had too many debts so he stopped directing.
iW: Now you personally, do you love life or do you see misery
Noe: No, no, no, no. Of course, I like life. I tell a terrible story but
you can see I am having fun with life because the style of the movie is
iW: It's a black comedy.
Noe: Most people only see the black aspect and not the humor in it. It
all depends on your perception of life. If it's too close to your
personal perception of life you cannot the see the humor. If it's far
from your perception of life, you can see it. Sometimes depressive
people don't react very well to "I Stand Alone."