Romain Gavras, the “son of” who made a name for himself by directing sensational shorts, clips and films

Athena, Greek goddess of war and wisdom. A dichotomy at the heart of French director Romain Gavras’ new film (Our day will come, The world is yours) premieres on Netflix Friday, September 23. Athena has earned a flattering reputation since its screening at the Venice Film Festival. The feature film tells the story of the burning of a French city, named after the goddess, after the death of one of its young inhabitants in chaotic circumstances. It plunges us into a family, grieving over the loss of its youngest sibling, about to explode.

When it was uploaded, the trailer was also criticized by supporters of the National Rally, who inevitably linked the violence to the suburbs. A smell of controversy to which the director is accustomed, but he refuses to find out. Seen that a “tragedy in the Greek sense of the word”the film however comes in a tense social context. “I didn’t say ‘Athena’ cannot be controversialwarned the magazine’s director Premiere. But this polemical spirit was not in its making. Co-written with Ladj Ly, director of Pathetic oneswhich already tells about the uprising in a city after the police’s 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 rings in the ears of moviegoers, it is normal because Romain is the son of the producer Michèle Ray-Gavras and the Greek director Costa-Gavras (Z, Confession, Amen…). It is difficult to escape the seventh art in this family, because one of his brothers is a producer and his sister is a director, like him. “I have an older brother who runs a bed and breakfast. Either the movie gods or the bed and breakfast gods saved him.”he enjoyed the The Guardian (in English).

“Children build themselves up against something.”

Romain Gavras, director

in “The Watcher”

This “son of” label did not bother him. “It is a part of me. On the contrary, it is a source of pride to be the son of Costa-Gavras. I have never seen it as a burden “, he assured in an interview for the site Chaosreign. From his father, a political filmmaker, he learned strength… And brushing your teeth every morning!”, he laughed in an interview with AFP. He discovered it too early “Films that don’t come from [son] age”he said to premiere. So a pronounced youthful love, as opposed to paternal, for Bruce Willis and the trilogy. die hard.

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

He was 14 years old when he discovered the movie “Kasso”. “He’s the cool neighbor who suddenly made the coolest movie on Earth. It should totally influence us”, he recalled, Konbini asked. He even forced his mother, Michèle Ray-Gavras, a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, so that the film, which was presented there, would not leave empty-handed. In lipstick, in the bathroom of her mother’s bedroom in Cannes, she wrote: “If Mathieu is valuable, there is no need to go home”he remembers for franceinfo.

Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel will take Romain Gavras and his friend Kim Chapiron under their wings, appearing in short films they direct. “It’s strange, I never thought of them as ‘my little ones’remember “Vinz” to hatred in Konbini. For me, they are very talented. I think we support each other. I, of course, I opened the 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 (Alas), journalist Mouloud Achour, photographer JR and rapper Oxmo Puccino. The collective now unites more than a hundred members and a “family dates, friends for thirty years”compared Kim Chapiron to The world.

The first short film that made noise was The goatee which, in 2002, featured 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 achievement for a video shot in almost two hours with a friend”says its author, Kim Chapiron, in The Parisian.

Years later, the group sought to share their experience with the younger generation 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 if we train young people in this school, we will benefit from their skills later on.justified Romain Gavras in First. Those who do not follow a traditional route will provide unique points of view. “

Before rubbing shoulders in feature films, Romain Gavras cut his teeth in advertising and music videos. If his first clip was for Ile-de-France rapper Rocé (Change the world in 2002) relatively unnoticed, the one for the group Mafia K’1 Fry will be mentioned by many. For those promotes the rappers Rohff, the 113, Manu Key like the inhabitants of the cities of Val-de-Marne. “It was the rap anthem of the time”suggests Romain Gavras in the review Rockyrama. “This clip is Kim’s [Chapiron] and I, than them. We were two little buffoons with cameras, we just said, ‘We want people there’ at one point, and then they brought all their men back.

The impact was huge and felt as far as the United States where a Jay-Z was blown away. Years later, the American rapper and the French director collaborated for the clip of There is no Church in the Wildtaken from the joint album with Kanye West, See the Throne. “The first time I met him, he said to me: ‘You’re from France, there’s this crazy clip I saw at the time’. He showed me ‘For those’, I said we did it. He said to me: ‘Don’t you realize, at the time we were crazy about this clip'”he spoke Telerama.

Nominated for Grammy Awards for this clip and the Bad Girls of British pop singer MIA and gosh of the British producer Jamie xx, Romain Gavras had little success Stress in the Justice group. Released in 2008, the music video caused an outcry. We see a group of teenagers, black and Arab, from the surrounding cities descend on Paris to crush everything. The director enjoyed controversy ten years ago.

“I remember being delighted to see myself treated as a facho in ‘Liberation’ and at the same time an anarchist in ‘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 hidden way of delivering a racist message.” The director, he assured, always Rockyrama, that“between the music, what the clip is, what it provokes, whether it’s hate or love, it’s one of the things I’m proud of”.

Coming to direct with unrealistic short films, but visually innovative for the time, especially with the use of the “fish-eye”, this wide-angle lens that curves the image, Romain Gavras , like his colleagues Ladj Ly and Kim Chapiron, there always wanted to stand out from a French cinema. That’s why hatred, especially, there is such an effect on the trio. What’s interesting is his aesthetics, this research of the play that contrasts with the French cinema of the time”he dissected the Telerama.

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

Romain Gavras, director

in “The Watcher”

To write and do AthenaFed by Romain Gavraspolice violence on the side of the “yellow vests” demonstrations, the rise of the far right, but he defended himself not wanting to convey any message. “I try to express the emotions of the audience, not serve them hashtags like ‘war is war’, ‘racism is bad'”he reviewed the magazine Vanity Fair. “I make pictures, I don’t have a solution. I am not a politicianhe assured AFP. LThe idea isn’t that there are bad guys and good guys, it’s more complicated than that. “

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