Albert Serra: “I’m not interested in politics, my goal is to knock down topics”

Albert Serra is an oxymoron, especially for those who have an image in their heads of what an Author should be like. In his case, the capital letters are kept, but they are also transformed into their antithesis: when he speaks in public, he sometimes looks like a stage comedian ready to provoke laughs where anyone – anyone who had received the decoration of Knight of Arts and Letters in France, as is the case – would use the rhetoric of the Great Themes. The torrential speech of him, at the same time lucid and reckless, seeks to break with the clichés -of History, Politics, Power, Cinema- with an unusual playful spirit, which, in «Pacifiction», with which he managed to compete for the first time in the official section of Cannes, crystallizes in a fable “about the widening gap between ordinary people and the elite of the powerful.”

Ethyl questions

When Serra is asked about the relevance of his film as a timely and unintended political commentary on the outbreak of the Ukraine war, he is reluctant to agree. Sometimes, he talks about “Pacifiction” like it’s a parody. “I’m not interested in politics. My only goal, if any, is to knock down clichés. “Pacifiction” may even seem like a thriller, but on many occasions the situations portrayed are completely absurd. I like that these artificial images are believable». Famous for his anarchic shoots in which he shoots a huge amount of footage with three cameras (in this case, 540 hours of material), Serra extracts pure gold from his actors, albeit with unconventional methods (“you give a little alcohol to see what happens”, he jokes) and refuses to mythologize the work of its main interpreter, Benoît Magimel: “Sometimes it was so sophisticated that it surprised even me, but Sometimes I’d ask you really stupid things.”

Albert Serra: “I’m not interested in politics, my goal is to knock down topics”