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Hors compétition : "Huit femmes "

La conférence de presse

How did the casting come about? Just for one petite miracle - okay I'm a fan, but just to imagine Catherine Deneuve as Danielle Darrieux's daughter, I'm sorry, but I'm in hog heaven here.

François Ozon: It was not a surprise, because they had already...

Catherine Deneuve: She'd always been in programs that she's my mother, you know. Four times, so that's a very special relationship I have with Danielle Darrieux. I was very pleased, you know, because she's an incredible, wonderful actress. But the strange thing is that, since she's been my mother since I was - I don't know - I was 16 or 17, I think, when I did my first film with her, every time I see her again and I find her … I cannot see her for years, but when I see her, she's my mother all of a sudden. We have a very special relationship. I've always been her daughter on-screen.

How did the casting come about, François?

FO: Very fast. When I began to work on the script, I realized it would be funnier to have big stars in the parts, because it's a film about the realities of women. And there's kind of a cliché to imagine the stars struggling together. That's not always the reality, but I think it would be funnier for the audience to see all the stars together. But it was like a dream; I totally didn't think the eight I wanted would accept. It was like a dream cast, and when Catherine accepted, after all the eight accepted, I didn't really realize, I think, what happened to me.

How did the musical, the choice of the songs come about? And I suppose you all did your own singing?

CD: Yes, we did.

FO: It was important for me to ask the actresses to sing by themselves, to reveal their voices, and by means of a kind of … promulgation?

CD: Promulgation?

FO: Promulgation between the voice-talking and the voice-singing. I think it's always very touching to hear an actress singing, because she's not usually professional, but there is a real … It's always moving, because, I think, with a song, it succeeds the way it does when there is a good interpretation, that we don't care about the technique, the interpretation is more important. I think the actresses are worthy to interpret the songs. It was important for me to have that. And the choices of the songs, it was like a game for French people. I don't know if American people can understand that, because there is some kind of connection between the singers, the female singers of songs which are very famous in France and the actresses. So there is a game between actresses and singers.

CD: Actually, we were not asked before, François did not say, "I would like to have a part where you sing and I think we'll go in that direction". We were proposed the songs and it was done in his mind. I don't know if he did it by himself, because we never discussed that in the sense that as soon as we had the songs that he said, "I would like you to sing that", it was quite obvious there was no discussion before. I don't really know the time he took before he worked with me on the choice, because some of the songs are from the '60s, some are older, one is a poem. But it really made sense that it was decided by him, and we all agreed and liked the choices he made for us. That was very unusual, very strange.

Miss Deneuve, what has this part allowed you to discover in yourself that you didn't know you had?

CD: I had the pleasure of working with other women, other actresses. It was like going back to college. I felt like this brought a sense of freedom, the décor and the ambience of the place made me feel like I was the hostess of the house, and it was a very nice kind of sensation. It's a great pleasure to sing, as well, in cinema, such as in life. I love to sing every day, and it's a sensation that brings a different interpretation of things.

I would like to know if this was your first time working with an all-female cast? How much fun did you have?

CD: It's very unusual to work only with actresses. I cannot think of any other experience close to that that I've had. So I suppose, in a way , we had a sort of... I don't think that all of us had brothers and sisters, but still, I think it was like finding again relationships we had when we were much younger, like family relations. We were very supportive of each other, I suppose, because of the film, one set, wearing one costume for two months, being in the same place... It was very... we were very supportive. We were really like a team. I very much like women and I was never in fear. When François told me about the project, the first thing I remember thinking was, "It's going to be great to work with women". I like to work with actresses. It's not that I don't like to work with actors, but, really, it's a completely different thing. There is no... it's not about seduction... it's really like being a young girl again, all of a sudden.

There is a family of directors, people you have met again and again every couple of years. There are very few of those. Jacques Demy was one. What makes you decide, someone that you've worked for the first time with, what makes you decide he's going to be part of the family, that you are going to meet him again and again?

CD: I don't decide anything like that, it just happens, you know. I didn't decide when I did a film with André Téchiné 20 years ago that we were going to be a... it just happened. That's the way I like things. It happens or it doesn't, you know, it's like a love relation. Some directors I got along very well with when I worked with them, but they are not people I see when I'm not doing films. It just happened with André Téchiné, happened to me a few times, but I don't think you can plan anything like that.

Can you remember something about your work with Luis Buñuel?

CD: Can I? [Laughs] What an unusual question! I remember very well that I had more pleasure doing "Tristana" and "Belle de jour", for example, that's for sure. I remember his great sense of humor... He liked actors, you know, up to a point, I think, and that's fine with me. I think he needs actors and actresses to do his films, but I don't think he's someone who had to get into a relationship with actors. He didn't like to talk that much to actors, but that's something I understood very well and I respected very well. The relationship is always difficult with a man, you know, when there's a big difference between us and old age. And that's a major thing, also, to talk, to have a... it was very special and it was a very important relationship for me, but I couldn't say it was like a relationship I had with some other directors, mainly because of his age and his - how can I...? - what he represented, you know? I was a young actress and he was a very mature director that I respected very much, but he had a great sense of humor.

François, you tried to secure the rights to the play "The women", but couldn't. Did that come in any way into your decision or desire to make a movie with only women and have the man dead in the closet?

FO: Actually, when I decided to make a film only about women, I saw again the film by Cukor ["The women"], and I realized it was typically an American story, the divorce of an American women. It was written in the '30s, so it was a very old formula. I did not want to make an American movie and the rights belong to Julia Roberts, I think, or something like that. So I forget that idea very fast and my agent in Paris talked with me about... there was a play in the '60s in France, which was very famous, but totally forgotten, because it's old-fashioned now, which exists. It was "8 women". I read the play and the play was very stupid, but I loved the plot. I loved the idea of eight women together, and one man is killed, and one of the eight is the killer, because I had the feeling that in that structure I could put on my obsession, what I wanted to say about family, about women, glamour, and beauty. It was a pretext to do the film I wanted to make.

The role was challenging for Deneuve in that she did not identify with it, yet that also made it enjoyable. She claimed the character was "the opposite of me." But she found this to be "more liberating…like when you visit a foreign country."

This extensive experience prompted her to be questioned about advice she may have given the younger actresses on the set. Deneuve, however, avowed that she will "never give advice unless I'm asked. Even if asked, I'm not ever sure if they want it." She claimed that to give career advice is "so personal, so difficult" that she avoids it.

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