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Interview: Francois Ozon on Hideaway (Le Refuge)

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At the age of 42, director Francois Ozon is known in the U.S. primarily for films such as 8 Women and Swimming Pool. A student of Eric Rohmer, he sees himself as part of the generation of French filmmakers that followed the generation that followed the Nouvelle Vague.

"We're the same generation as Tarantino," he says. "But France doesn't have a generation like Coppola and Scorsese. There was no place for the French directors of the '70s in that history of cinema. People like me and (Olivier) Assayas and (Arnaud) Desplechin were not crushed by the Nouvelle Vague."

Ozon's latest is Hideaway (Le Refuge), a film (opening in limited release Friday, 9/10/10) about a girl who survives a heroin overdose that kills her musician boyfriend. Pregnant, she escapes to spend the summer at a beach house she borrows - where she is looked after by her dead boyfriend's gay brother. It's notable for how cheaply and quickly Ozon shot it - and for the fact that he was inspired to write it by the idea of making a film using an actress who actually was pregnant. He spoke about it during a recent trip to New York.

Q: Where did this idea come from?
A:
It comes from a pregnant woman. This film was not in my plans. I was supposed to go on holiday. But an actress I know called me to announce that she was pregnant. I had always wanted to make a film about a pregnant woman, so I said, Would you act in a film about a pregnant woman? At first she said yes. She was excited. Then later on she said, I know you - you're demanding and I don't want to work for you while I'm pregnant.

Q: So what did you do?
A:
My casting director then told me that three other French actresses were pregnant during this summer. And so I spoke to Isabel Carre, who is someone I've liked for a long time. Because it was the first time she'd been pregnant, she didn't know how it would be to work and be pregnant so she said yes.

Q: Why seek that particular kind of realism?
A:
It was important to me to have a real pregnant woman for the reality of the film. Usually, they have a fake belly. But there's just something about the body of a pregnant woman.

Q: Was this a tough role for Carre, with her actually being pregnant?
A:
The character is so much the opposite of who she is so there was no confusion between the pregnancy in her life and the one of her character, Mousse. She liked that distance, that it was always the opposite of her character's life.

Q: This film has a tough opening.
A:
I wanted to begin in a very dark way, start with something dramatic and dark and then move to something lighter.

Q: It's pretty stark at the start. These people seem irredeemable and self-destructive. Yet Louis is almost idealized by Mousse.
A:
I don't want people to forget that character - I want him to be like a ghost. And I wanted to kill the clichés about drugs.

Click here: This interview continues on my website.