“War is never right and censorship is not the answer”

Actress revealed for her first role in the 1964 film Married woman Jean-Luc Godard, Macha Meril quickly became one of the actresses of the New Wave with embodied and seen interpretations, as in great day Luis Buñuel in 1966 We won’t grow old together Maurice Piala (1972) Each other Claude Lelouch in 1981 or even big carnival Alexander Arkady (1983).

She defends the film festival “When Russians…”, which this year is a response to the war that Russia is waging against Ukraine, and which will be held on the same day, March 23, 2022, at 19:30, at the Max cinema. Linder Panorama in Paris.

Franceinfo: Date and one movie Mom I’m at home Vladimir Bitokov. Why do you want to keep this festival?

Maha Meryl: My life is closely connected with cinema, because cinema has taken a significant place in modern history. May 68 was born on the steps of the Cinematheque. The Americans stopped the Vietnam War after: Apocalypse has come Francis Ford Coppola. There is a virtue in cinema, a very strong one, and that is why we founded this festival of Russian cinema, which you hardly see in France.

“Film directors have long warned us about the state of Russian society. We had to take sides, get through to them, because they are waiting for us to show their films. They are boycotted, they cannot find funding, they are muzzled, they are sometimes imprisoned. All this upsets me, I am Russian.”

Maha Meril

on Franceinfo

You are the fruit of the union of a mother from the Ukrainian nobility and the Russian prince Vladimir Anatolyevich Gagarin.

They were both Russians, big landlords and lost everything in the October Revolution (1917), in 24 hours. They left and came to France. They spoke French, English, German, they were a very enlightened aristocracy. The lands were in Ukraine. Of course, all my life I have heard about Ukraine as some kind of country of abundance, a place where fruits are tastier than anywhere else, where everything was beautiful. There were lakes and rivers. All this, at the moment, is torn apart by the war. Personally, I’m not so surprised, I think Putin’s Russians wanted this war.

Tomorrow there will be a screening of this film as part of this completely redesigned Russian festival, reorganized because of this war.

Yes, the formula will change, but we will continue all the following weeks. And this film, which opens the festival, mom i’m at home, Vladimir Bitokov, a student of the great film director Alexander Sokurov. It’s the mothers who say her son is dead. He served in the militia, was engaged in Syria, but she does not believe in it. So she’s making hay, she’s doing research, and one day someone knocks on her door. There is a handsome young man who introduces himself and says to him: “I am your son“. That is, to keep her quiet, we send her a replacement. She is still different from our French cinema, which is in satin and cotton wool. Russians have plots!

“I believe in the power of art. I believe in culture, but deeply. She crosses borders and is always a little ahead. For me, this is the definition of culture, it must be foresight. able to do it.”

Maha Meril

on Franceinfo

I want to read you a little thing, it really upset me: “We, students, doctoral students, professors, staff and graduates of the oldest university in Russia, categorically condemn the war that our country unleashed against Ukraine. We demand that the leadership of Russia immediately cease hostilities and leave the territory of a sovereign state.

They face jail time for spreading this petition. It includes Pavel Lungin, Zvyagintsev, Vladimir Spivakov, a great violinist and conductor. War is never right and censorship is not the answer.

However, Vladimir Putin controls everything. What is more serious then? Censorship or self-censorship?

This is a painful question, because it is obvious that many filmmakers, in order to be able to continue making their films, have become a little bogged down in the system. True, but it existed everywhere. Not every hero. You must live too. We must also continue to make films. As for me, I have a certain leniency towards those who are not entirely revolutionary. This is a profession, a revolution.

This film was preceded by performances by many Russian and French artists and filmmakers. Was it important to maintain this dialogue, to be able to open this dialogue?

We thought a lot and told ourselves that we would invite only artists, creators, each of whom would say something. There is nothing better than the artists themselves to tell about their Russian brothers.

Do you fear the escalation of the conflict?

We cannot be insensitive when we see all these horrors on the screens. It’s really difficult. We are now in the logic of war. We need something else, Putin needs to be fired. I don’t believe in a big popular uprising, but I do believe that the country’s elites and manpower will be able to defeat the dictatorship.

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