Régis Wargnier launches a festival for Ukraine

The director ofIndochina intends to present films that are little known in France. From the first days of the war in Ukraine, it decided to add a program supplement for its next edition from March 25 to 27, a screening of Is Westwhich he wrote and directed in 1999.

Twice a year, Régis Wargnier organizes a mini-film festival in Moëlan-sur-Mer, a town in Finistère where he spends part of the year. In a 175-seat community hall, it offers films by directors little known in France, often unseen, most of which it has spotted at the Cannes or Venice Festivals. For the next edition which takes place from March 25 to 27, he established at the beginning of the year, a program which includes, among others, crazy with joysigned by Italian Paolo Virzi, The invisible life of Euridice Gusmaoa Brazilian feature film directed by Karim Aïnouz, and My brothers and mea French feature film by Yohan Manca.

From the first days of the war in Ukraine, he decided to add a “program supplement”: a projection of Is Westwhich he wrote and directed in 1999. The day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he had begun to imagine an “eastern” set in the USSR of 1946, when Stalin had proposed to the descendants of Russian families parties in 1917, to return to a land which, following the end of the Second World War, needed all goodwill to be rebuilt. “It was a trap that earned life imprisonment and even the death sentence for those who fell into the trap,” says Régis Wargnier. “In reality, Stalin did not want Russian diasporas to develop in Western countries and found this lie to prevent their creation. We then talked about Stalin’s paranoia…Already…”

Originally, the filming of Is West was to take place in Kazakhstan. Learning from friends that the mafia had taken an important place in a country where kidnappings and disappearances were part of everyday life, Régis Wargnier finally decided to transport his teams to Ukraine. He was then welcomed with open arms by the authorities in place and shot part of the sequences outdoors in the heart of a city of kyiv which was, at the time, an example of peace and brotherhood. He thus remembers having worked on this occasion with the man who was then considered the greatest Ukrainian actor. Because it was the first time that a French film was shot in his country, and because it was, in his eyes, a courageous gesture, he had accepted a small role, for the greatest happiness Russian technicians who considered him their absolute idol, a living God. Régis Wargnier was then struck by this complicity. The intellectual fusion was such that he sometimes wondered if the interlocutor he had in front of him was Russian or Ukrainian. That is to say if what is happening today was then, for him, in the realm of the impossible.

Proceeds donated to an NGO

Is West, co-produced by France, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Spain, achieved international success in its time. The director presented it in several European countries, in the United States and even in Japan. It was nominated for the Césars, the Golden Globes and the Oscars, and earned its director a “gold star of French cinema”. Sandrine Bonnaire, who shared the headliner with Catherine Deneuve was also nominated for the Césars in the best actress category. Some time ago, the film was restored and digitized for no other purpose than to protect the images. Current events have changed the situation. The day after the end of this mini-festival and this screening event, all the proceeds will be donated to an NGO which helps those who have chosen to leave Ukraine. A fiction that Régis Wargnier would never have wanted to see become reality.

For further: The Last Life of Julia Ba novel that Régis Wargnier has just published by Robert Laffont.


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