José Garcia: “In Dinard, I found that English cinema was less whiny than ours!”

INTERVIEW – President of the jury of this 33e edition, the comedian and actor delivers his impressions on a selection that he judges “of high quality.“A little jealous, he even wonders”what we expect in France to make this type of film…»

From our special correspondent in Dinard

On the first floor of the Grand Hôtel de Dinard, on the terrace overlooking the sea, José Garcia savors a moment of respite before the next screening. Such is the life of a jury president, at the heart of the 33e edition of the Dinard British Film Festival. Succeeding Bérénice Bejo, the dashing 56-year-old humorist and actor will have the delicate task of deciding between six feature films from across the Channel to the delight of festival-goers. Available, relaxed, passionate, the extrublion of Canal+ alongside Antoine de Caunes, is smiling and affable, visibly delighted with his presence in Brittany.

LE FIGARO. – What does it mean to you to find yourself president of the jury of a festival like that of Dinard?

Jose Garcia. – I had thought about going to this festival for a long time, and especially every time I shot a film in the region. So when I was offered to succeed Bérénice Bejo, I jumped at the chance.

What was your first reaction?

My first thought was to tell myself that I was going to have fun. I love British cinema. I admire the work of English actors. They have incredible finesse and have the originality to try things that we don’t allow ourselves. Sometimes it brings me back to my acting debut. Watching them perform, whether it’s Emma Thompson, young Emma Mackey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Farrell or Brendan Gleeson, and many other great comedians, it reminds me of what triggered my vocation as an actor.

What was the trigger for you?

Oh! I remember it very well. My vocation as an actor was born the night I parked the army truck that I drove during my military service. I must not miss the first day at Cours Florent. I was returning from maneuvers. We were returning from Fontainebleau and I had just dropped off troops at the barracks. I had to return the truck, but I thought to myself: “Too bad, I’m going!” I parked the khaki green truck, and its imposing turret, in the middle of Place Censier, and I landed at Cours Florent in military fatigues! They thought it was a roundup… But I know that when I opened the door, discovering this theater in the dark, empty, with this lit stage and all these apprentice actors talking, I then thought: “It’s here!” That’s what I want to do. I had butterflies in my body. Almost thirty years later, it’s still there… It hangs on!! And that’s good.

What do you think of the selection of this 33e editing?

Frankly, we are incredibly lucky. With the members of the jury and the professionals present on site, we made the same remark. Since the start of the festival, the quality of the films we have seen has been quite exceptional. There, we are really in excellence. During the opening ceremony, I mentioned this term that the English use: “Brilliant!”. Well, I think this 2022 selection is. And in more ways than one. With each film, we entered the room without really knowing what to expect. And we came out blown away by the intelligence of the film, the work of staging, the direction of the actor, the editing. I don’t know how the other editions were, but this year we are very spoiled. We come out of each film in high spirits, reinvigorated by the power of the films on offer… I admit that I even feel a bit jealous! What are we waiting for in France to make this type of film?!

In your opinion, what is the difference between French cinema and British cinema?

What I realized is that English films have this exquisite way of getting out of the most serious situations with a snub. They have a knack for finding something funny, a good word, something fresh, which provokes emotion without overwhelming the viewer. It’s very strong. I tend to find that French cinema “leads” the public. And then we wonder why people don’t come back to the cinema! Even if at the moment, everything is anxiety-provoking everywhere in the world, when dealing with a strong or serious subject in the cinema, the least of politeness would be to inject a little hope into it, it is important. British films achieve this, and it’s impressive. Overall, I find English cinema to be less whiny than ours…

Do you find French cinema a little too depressing?

In any case, English directors have a way of seeing life that is not ours. Over time, I realize that French cinema has something deeply pessimistic about it. The rest of us spend our time crying. Whereas the English cultivate in their cinema this small note of permanent hope, totally gratifying. As soon as there is something darkening on the horizon, they counterbalance it with a humorous pirouette.

What attracted you to the Dinard festival, compared to other film festivals?

It is above all a festival on a human scale, which allows you to concentrate on the films and not only on the slightly superficial “people” extras, all this glamor and the upstairs with tuxedos and low-cut evening dresses. In Dinard, the walkabouts do a world of good. People are so nice. It’s so sweet. As it is a festival close to the sea, you can breathe in the fresh air and the iodized spray of the open sea. We take the time to see the films and take them in full force. We have no pressure. In Dinard, we cultivate the pleasure of total cinema!

How’s it going with the jury? What kind of president are you?

I am an enthusiastic and available president, I hope. I love that whoever defends the best idea wins. For a week that we have been seeing films, we have had time each of us to get our own idea about the film that will win the Hitchcock. We are all in the same pleasure. And we have pretty much the same sensitivities. What bothers me is this idea that we can decide to give the prize not to the one who deserves it, but to “the one who needs it”. I would fight for the Hitchcock for best film go to the work that delights us the most!


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