Romain Gavras, the “son of” who made a name for himself directing shocking shorts, clips and movies

Athena, Greek goddess of war and wisdom. A dichotomy at the heart of the new film by French director Romain Gavras (Our day will come The world is Yours) which premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 23. athena has been preceded by a flattering reputation since its appearance at the Venice Film Festival. The feature film recounts the burning of a French city, which bears the name of the goddess, after the death of one of its young inhabitants in convulsive circumstances. She plunges us into a family, afflicted by the loss of the younger brother, which will implode.

When uploaded, the trailer was also criticized by supporters of the National Grouping, who inevitably linked the violence to the suburbs. A smell of controversy to which the director is accustomed, but which he refuses to seek. seen as a “tragedy in the Greek sense of the word”the film, however, arrives in a tense social context. “I’m not saying that ‘Athena’ will not be controversialwarns the director to the magazine Premiere. But this controversial spirit was absent from its elaboration. Co-written with Ladj Ly, director of miserablethat already recounted the revolt of a city after a police mistake, athena gives the opportunity to reflect on the career of Romain Gavras.

Romain Gavras, 41, was born in Paris. And if this last name resonates in the ears of moviegoers, it is normal since Romain is the son of the producer Michèle Ray-Gavras and the Greek director Costa-Gavras (Z, Confession, Amen…). Difficult to escape from the seventh art in this family, since one of his brothers is a producer and his sister is his director, like him. “I have an older brother who runs a bed and breakfast. He was saved by the movie gods or the gods of bed and breakfast.”had fun in The Guardian (in English).

“Children construct themselves as opposed to something.”

Romain Gavras, director

in “The Guardian”

This “son of” label doesn’t bother him. “It’s part of me. On the contrary, it is a pride to be the son of Costa-Gavras. I have never seen it as a burden.assures in an interview for the site kingdom of chaos. From his father, a political filmmaker, he learned rigor… And brush your teeth every morning!”, laughs in an interview with AFP. He also discovered very early “films that weren’t from [son] age”says in premiere. Hence a pronounced love in adolescence, unlike the paternal one, for Bruce Willis and the trilogy. intransigent.

Romain Gavras grew up in a building in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, where he met his partner Kim Chapiron, son of Christian Chapiron, says “Kiki Picasso”, graphic designer and painter. Among the neighbors, Mathieu Kassovitz, who is about to create metis Y Hatredand artist Chris Marker. “This building, which at the time was a bit in the middle of nowhere, is all of our youth. When we started making small movies, we used it as a set”says Romain Gavras in The world (paid article).

He was 14 years old when he discovered the movie “Kasso”. “He was the cool neighbor who suddenly made the coolest movie on Earth. He had to totally influence us.”remember, questioned by Kobini. She even pressured her mother, Michèle Ray-Gavras, a member of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 1995, so that the film, which was presented there, did not leave empty-handed. In lipstick, in the bathroom of her mother’s bedroom in Cannes, she had written: “If Mathieu is priceless, there is no need to go home”remember for franceinfo.

Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel will take Romain Gavras and his friend Kim Chapiron under their wings, appearing in the short films they are directing. “Strangely, I never thought of them as ‘my little ones’remember “Vinz” from Hatred in Konbini. To me, they were very talented. I think we supported each other. For me, of course, I opened doors for them, but they brought me a kind of fresh air and a desire to work.

This is how “Kourtrajmé”, the collective created by Romain Gavras, Kim Chapiron and a childhood friend, Toumani Sangaré is making a name for himself. The trio will soon be joined by Ladj Ly, or the actors Olivier Barthélémy (our day will come), Alexis Manenti (The Miserables), the journalist Mouloud Achour, the photographer JR and the rapper Oxmo Puccino. The collective now brings together more than a hundred members and is a “family dating, thirty year old friends”compare Kim Chapiron in The world.

The first short film to make noise is the knob which, in 2002, features the Wanted brothers played by Vincent Cassel, Olivier Barthélémy and Marko Payen. It has 1.5 million views on Dailymotion, almost 2 million on YouTube. An unimaginable success for a video shot in just two hours with a friend”says its author, Kim Chapiron, in the parisian.

Years later, the group intends to share its experience with the younger generations and created in 2018 the Kourtrajmé film school located in Montfermeil (Seine-Saint-Denis), where Ladj Ly grew up. “We just think that there is talent everywhere and when we train young people in this school, we will benefit from their skills later on.justifies Romain Gavras in First. Those who have not followed a traditional route will offer unique points of view”.

Before rubbing shoulders with feature films, Romain Gavras started out in advertising and music videos. If his first clip of him for the Ile-de-France rapper Rocé (Change the world in 2002) goes relatively unnoticed, much will be said about the Mafia group K’1 Fry. For those highlights the rappers Rohff, the 113, Manu Key as well as the inhabitants of the cities of Val-de-Marne. “It was the rap anthem of that time”suggests Romain Gavras in the review Rockyrama. “This clip is so much Kim [Chapiron] and I, that they. We were two little buffoons with cameras, we just said, ‘We want people there’ at some point, and then they brought all their guys.”

The impact is enormous and is felt even in the United States, where a certain Jay-Z is left speechless. Years later, the American rapper and the French director collaborate for the clip of no church in naturetaken from the joint album with Kanye West, See The Throne. “The first time I met him he told me: ‘You come from France, there is this clip that is crazy that I had seen at the time’. He shows me ‘For those’, I tell him we did it. He was like, ‘Don’t you realize at the time we were freaking out over this clip?'”he says telerama.

Nominated for a Grammy Award for this clip and those of bad girls of the British pop singer MIA and My God British producer Jamie xx, Romain Gavras had less success with Stress of the Justice group. Released in 2008, the music video sparked an outcry. We see a group of teenagers, black and Arab, from the suburbs rushing into Paris to destroy everything. The director was amused by the controversy ten years later.

“I remember that I was maliciously pleased to see myself treated as facho by ‘Liberación’ and at the same time as an anarchist by ‘Le Figaro'”.

Romain Gavras, director

in “Rockyrama” magazine

Faced with accusations of racism, stigmatization of the suburbs, the French electro-rock group had to publish a press release to explain themselves: “This film was never intended as a stigmatization of the suburbs, as an incitement to violence or, above all, as a covert means of conveying a racist message.” The director, he assured, always rockyrama, that“Between the music, what the clip is, what it provoked, whether it was hate or love, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of”.

Arriving at the direction with absurd short films, but visually innovative for the time, in particular with the use of the “fisheye”, this wide angle that curves the image, Romain Gavras, like his acolytes Ladj Ly and Kim Chapiron, has I always wanted to stand out from a certain French cinema. That is why Hatred, in particular, had such an impact on the trio. What stood out was its aesthetic, that investigation into the mise-en-scène that contrasted with the French cinema of the time”dissects into telerama.

“My favorite movies are the visual movies where you don’t get a message. You get feelings and emotions through the power of images.”

Romain Gavras, director

in “The Guardian”

To write and act athenaRomain Gavras fed onpolice violence on the fringes of the “yellow vest” demonstrations, the rise of the extreme right, but it defends itself from wanting to transmit any message. “I try to convey emotion to the audience, not serve them hashtags like ‘war is bad’, ‘racism is bad’.”review in the magazine vanity fair. “I make images, I have no solution. I am not a politicianassures AFP. LThe idea is not to have bad guys and good guys, it’s more complex than that.”

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