Costa Gavras at Rome for “Mon Colonel”
Costa-Gavras presented the competition film Mon Colonel, which he wrote, in memory of Gillo Pontecorvo, who passed away on October 12. Also present were the film’s director, Laurent Herbiet, producer (and Costa-Gavras’ wife) Michelle Ray-Gavras, Algerian co-producer Salem Brahimi, and actors Robinson Stevenin, Bruno Solo and Eric Caravaca.
Why associate Mon colonel with Pontecorvo’s Golden Lion-winning masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers, made exactly 40 years ago and banned from French cinemas for almost 30 years? Because it was the main inspiration behind the new film, which is based on the eponymous novel by Francis Zamponi. “[Pontecorvo] was the beginning of it all, with a film that speaks of things we consider very current,” added Herbiet.
The film refers to current events using themes from the past because, reminded Michelle Ray-Gavras, “it speaks of wars of independence in general, from Algeria to Iraq, but we didn’t make the film to denounce the current situation”.
Costa-Gavras added: “Obviously, the attitude of the United States towards the occupation of a faraway country (in this case, Iraq), the idea of a justifiable war and the use of torture, exactly like what the French did during the war in Algeria, can make it seem like we’ve made a film against the Bush administration, but when we began working, seven years ago, we didn’t know this [current war] would have happened. Ours is a broader statement”.
As the films of Costa-Gavras have often shown, and as he himself explained today, “Cinema is, above all, a spectacle that makes you laugh and cry, it cannot change the world, but it must awaken consciences”.