Interview with Jean-Gabriel Périot – Entre chiens et loups


Please tell us a little more about the background of Entre Chiens et Loups. How did it start? Was it based on an original idea by yourself?

I wrote the script (original) just after I done, few years ago, the movie we are winning don't forget and an art installation, both of them dealing with the concept of "work". Politically, and personally, the "work" is one of the most complicated themes; in one hand, a majority of people really suffers from it or from the absence of it (slavery and/or poverty), in other hand, almost of the political systems thought against capitalism failed to purpose another kind of "work".

With my two previous pieces dealing with this theme, I felt that I didn't explore all I wanted to express about it. With Entre chiens et loups, I wantedto deal with the shame that could rise from the work and/or from the absence of it.

Simone Weil: "Why I will give much price to this part of my intelligence of which everyone could, by uses of whips and chains, or by a piece of paper covered with certain signs, deprive to me? If this part is the whole, then I have almost no value."
Krisis Gruppe: "The fact that, now, work appears to be irrationally its own goal and meaning is transformed into personal failures."


Why was it important for you to make this film?

I need to make films about what is hurting me. And the violence that rises from the work (or the absence of it) is one of them.

Now I have the chance to choose how to work (I write about work for money, not my art works). I can't live with my films, obviously no one could with short movies, but as I am editor I managed to organize my time, and my budget, in participating of the making of another movies or documentaries I found interesting. To choose how and when to work is a luxury. But before that, I spent difficult years. And now, I have many friends around me who live complicated situations. Humiliating ones. So for me, the question of the work is not only an abstract debate.
As director, I simply can't make movies about love and flowers when our societies are based on the destruction of the human beings.

Is the way you worked on this film similar to your earlier works?

There are obviously, some links between this movie and my previous works. Particularly, my desire to make films from which political questions could rise. (Questioning is for me more important than answering.)

But I think that there are some important differences between this film and the previous ones. The most important difference is not the fact that this one is a fiction and the others are some kind of documentaries. I don't care about the question of "genre".

The meanings of Entre chiens et loups could appeared to be less clear that the ones of my previous works that are based on more basic dialectics. In those films, the audience could easily project itself to the "good side"; almost everyone is against war, torture, violence and so on… In Entre chiens et loups, there is no border, there are no clear keys of lecture as there are no innocent victims of the violence. And even if I make this movie with the same questions, the same political views as the previous ones, this one could first appeared to be more obscured. This kind of abstraction, the unreality of the story and of the characters allowed me to go deeper in a political questioning of our contemporary reality.


Can you tell us if you get inspired also by watching work by other filmmakers? Who are they? In what way do they inspire you?

The most obvious reference for this work was Michael Haneke. Particularly, the 7th continent that is for me the best film of Haneke. In the movies of Haneke, the audience was always alone, there is no key, no explanation, and that could be disturbing. Perhaps it is this point, the liberty of the viewer that makes his movies so political. As he did in his movies (all the first ones), I tried to erase all psychological aspect of the characters, all explanation of the situation. And I could confess that I used directly one of his "tricks". In the beginning of funny games, the family is in a car listening for classical music, the credits appear with a really noisy music. That editing is giving the presentiment of the violence that will happen. I used the same kind of editing for the beginning of my own movie.

The second reference I could give is the work of the Dardenne. I really like their cinema, as I like the one of Haneke even if they are totally different, for the adequacy between the political meanings and the cinematographical forms. The cinematography of the Dardenne is the perfect model of what the audience feels as realistic. And this feeling allows the Dardenne to created real fictions under a realistic varnish. For example, Rosetta is really more complex than it firstly appears. My own character, as Rosetta, is not at all realist, but I need to make it appears "real" as the destruction of this reality is one of the turning point of the movie. So for this first part of my movie, I used the same kind of cinematography than the Dardenne, cinematography than the audience accepts as realistic.


What was the audience you had in mind when you made Entre chiens et  loups?

The question of the audience is for me a real doubled mind. In one hand, I never make movies for the audience. I am quite sure that good movies are good only because the directors make them according to their own glance, their own mind. Something of the creation can't be shared. Myself, I prefer take the risk to fail than to make consensual movies.
In other hand, as I make political movies, I address them to the audience with the desire than the viewers question themselves about what they just saw after the screening. I think it is more effective to address those movies to the maximum of people, not only to the ones who are the same political ideas than me. But it is complicated for me to describe how that could influence or not my work.


Could you please tell us something about the next project you will be working on?

I work actually on the script of a long documentary for cinema, an archives movie. About the confrontation between the RAF, the Red Army Fraktion, a guerilla group active in the Germany during 30 years and the German state.  Different things interest me in this history. The first one is simply the possibility of radicalization of the left to the terrorism and the overreaction of a democratic state against it. The story of the RAF is like a pattern to describe that. But my main interest for it, it is that this story is also the history of the images it created itself. Both sides of this conflict used images as weapons, and in the middle, artists and directors, afraid by the consequences of this confrontation for the democracy, tried unsuccessfully to give another views. The RAF history allows me to question what images are and how they act on reality.


Rotterdam International Film Festival