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MARRAKECH: Awarded many times at Cannes as well as around the world, counter-culture icon, fiercely independent who proves his individuality and confronts different universes in each of his productions, Jim Jarmusch is built since the beginning of 1980 a personal, minimalist and disenchanted work.
He was present at the Marrakech International Film Festival, where he gave a very successful master class, attended by more than three hundred cinema lovers, as part of the section entitled “In Conversation with …”. His very good vampire film Only Lovers Left (2013) was screened as part of the festival’s tribute to actress Tilda Swinton. This extraordinary director confessed Arab News in French with his single concept of cinema and his interest in music.
From the very beginning, the filmmaker from Ohio admitted that he owed something to France and the French Cinematheque in Paris: while he was a student at Columbia University, he spent ten months in the French capital and really discovered cinema on this occasion . “My university course was incomplete because I spent all my time going to the Cinémathèque or wandering the streets of Paris at night. It was an incredible time for me,” he said. “France has always been special to me. And I don’t forget that the Cannes Film Festival supported me while, in Hollywood, they weren’t interested in me; they didn’t even offer me a coffee. It doesn’t matter, I don’t care. I have my own way. It pays off,” he laughs now.
When the actor was asked if the Cannes Film Festival is more commercial than before. His answer was negative: “When I saw which films were selected last year, I found them really interesting. Besides, Cannes has been very useful for me,” said Jarmusch , which was the first feature film, Stranger than Paradisewon the Camera d’Or in 1984. Eight of his films were screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, including Broken Flowerwhich won the Grand Jury Prize in 2005. For many filmmakers who want to start out as “independents”, Jim Jarmusch’s career is exemplary.
Taking advantage of his presence in Morocco, the director expressed his unconditional love for this country, “land of inspiration and exchange”, in his own words. In Tangier he shot Only Lovers Left (2013). He brings up an important meeting, which he did “right here ten years ago”: the Lebanese artist Yasmine Hamdane. “He performed a few songs and I was blown away by his voice. We met. I spent time with her and we became friends. Then he sang in my movie Only Lovers Left; he is exceptional. He was a kind of a teacher for me; he taught me the history of Arab popular music,” he says, adding that he has accumulated many recordings, especially thanks to Yasmine, over the past few years. “I’m still learning, but don’t try to test my knowledge!” he joked. The director cultivates an interest in various genres of oriental music – “bringing all the regions together”, he defined.
This music plays an important role in the films, but also in the life of Jim Jarmusch. “When I’m writing a screenplay, I prepare recordings that give me inspiration from what I’m trying to imagine. For example, in the movie ghost dog, I wrote the script and I bought forty-five rounds of the Wu-Tang Clan group because there were instrumental pieces on the B side. So I made instrumental recordings and listened to them over and over. Back then, I didn’t know RZA [membre de Wu-Tang Clan, NDLR]. When I finished the screenplay, I wanted to get his opinion. So I met him and told him I wanted him to do the music for the film. I asked him if he was interested. He agreed,” he recalls. “It’s great. But I always do that. I listen to very specific parts while I’m recording,” he added enthusiastically.
“For example, while I was writing the screenplay for Broken Flower, I am obsessed with the music of Mulatu Astatke, an Ethiopian. But the movie has absolutely nothing to do with Ethiopia. How can I properly fit the music to the film? I made sure that the character of Winston – played by Jeffrey Wright – was of Ethiopian descent. And this music, which initially had nothing to do with the film, is an important part of it,” he explained.
Referring to the difficulties facing current filmmaking, especially in independent cinema, Jim Jarmusch pointed out that “the world today is very entrepreneurial and people with money are afraid to try new things. . But more it is also technologically easy, because it is possible to shoot a film with your iPhone. We have digital devices and lighting equipment is not as important as it used to be. The process of creating a film is therefore more easy. But financing is becoming more and more difficult for me, every time”.
He insists that creative people are not the ones making financial decisions. And the latter is not very brave. They want to know who will watch the movie, how much it will make, what the audience is for. It’s not up to the people who created the movie to think about it or determine how much money the movie will make. He admits: it’s difficult. But the director remains confident in the creative potential of youth.
“If I have any advice to give, it’s to choose your own artistic collaborators. Don’t let other people tell you who to choose. Trust your instincts. Trust yourself. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but you will learn from them. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to fail. The mistakes we make, good or bad, allow us to learn. The important thing is to learn. Don’t be afraid to try new things and trust your instincts . You don’t need to look for money or fame. These things will not allow us to build on a solid foundation. That’s the advice I can give you”, concluded Jim Jarmusch.