Costa-Gavras • Director of Adults in the Room
“This movie is politics, dialogue and action”
by Kaleem Aftab
- VENICE 2019: Cineuropa caught up with French-Greek director Costa-Gavras to talk about his new film, Adults in the Room, screening Out of Competition
Costa-Gavras was awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the Venice Film Festival, where his new film, Adults in the Room [+see also:
film profile], played Out of Competition. The narrative feature is an adaptation of Yanis Varoufakis’ book of the same name, which shows his point of view on the debates and behind-closed-door talks between Greece and the European Union from the January 2015 election that resulted in the left-wing Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras ending up as prime minister, up until the Greek bailout referendum in July. The film stars Christos Loulis as Varoufakis and Alexandros Bourdoumis as Tsipras.
Cineuropa: Why did you want to make a film of the Varoufakis book Adults in the Room?
Costa-Gavras: Because the book is the most accurate source in terms of reporting what happened in Europe and Greece over the course of those six months, how Europe tackled the Greek problem and why. They did it to save the banks, and Greece ended up with that debt. The debt is higher today than it was ten years ago, so they did nothing. They saved the banks, but they destroyed the country. A total of 500,000 Greeks have left the country because they can’t survive; they can’t live there. This is a problem for Greece.
Did you show the script to Varoufakis before shooting?
I showed him the script, as sometimes I would ask him about technical or economic problems that I wasn’t able to understand, and he would explain it to me – that was all. It was made very clear when he sold us the rights: I said, “I’m doing what I want.” I showed him the movie after the first edit and said, “This is the film,” so it was a very clear situation.
The film relies heavily on dialogue in order to explain the intricacies. What was your thinking behind this?
A movie should generally be without dialogue. This movie is politics, dialogue and action, so I have a lot of dialogue, and I fear that some people will get bored with the high volume of words. When I was watching the film at the world premiere in Venice, many of the Italians in the audience would have needed to read the many subtitles. I was happy to see that no one left, and that was really the proof of its success – no one left, even with all the dialogue they had to read.
What do you think about the Greek situation today?
I left Greece in 1955. They have huge problems. The high society there doesn’t have problems, whereas from the middle class down, there are huge issues. A lot of people live on €400 a month, and many have left – it’s a catastrophe. This made me want to make the film, just to say that Europe didn’t handle this situation in the right way. That was the idea from the beginning. In the end, I found the book.
You received a Lifetime Achievement Award at Venice; does that make you proud?
It was an honour. But what interests me the most at the festival is to come along with a movie, particularly this one, and have the opportunity to show you my films and discuss them. The importance of the award is greater when you don’t have such movies.
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