Reel talk

Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts will be hosting French film director, Pierre Filmon for a two-day screening of his films, ‘Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond’ and ‘Long Time No See’. NT BUZZ caught up with him ahead of the screenings

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

He’s been to Goa (India) twice, both times for the International Film Festival of India (IIFI), in 2016 and now in 2021. And with India having cast a spell on him, Pierre Filmon is now already scouting locations for his Indo-France production with Ashish Shah of Darkcomet Films.

Alongside this, he has been spending time on Candolim Beach, and trying Indian delicacies like butter chicken and masala dosa. “I’m inspired by the colours, nature and the people here,” he tells us.

Having come into the limelight with his documentary ‘Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond’ which was the official selection at Cannes in 2016, Filmon’s latest feature film ‘Long Time No See’ has been selected in 22 international film festivals, and was also screened at the recent 51st IFFI in Goa under the World Panorama section

In fact, apart from the upcoming weekend screening in Goa, it will also be screened at the 7th Rajasthan International Film Festival 2021 to be held from March 20-March 24, where Filmon will be conferred with the Award for Excellence for Contribution in International Cinema.

But despite the accolades that have come his way, Filmon still considers himself a debutant, and tells us that in the course of his film career so far, he has tasted more failure than success. “Nothing worth having comes easy. Filmmaking is hard and it is risky,” he tells us.

In fact, Filmon faced several rejections for funding for his films, before deciding to make a film as an independent filmmaker. And thankfully it clicked.

While he then wrote two feature films that sadly never got made, it was after hitting a few bumps in the road that his ‘Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond’, based on the legendary American cinematographer, got made. The documentary, a journey with the most brilliant man from behind the scenes along with his director, actor and cinematographer friend, was officially selected at Cannes Film Festival, 2016 in the section Cannes Classics.

And Filmon believes that everything around is interesting and can be made into films. “Filmmaking is about the possibility, the ideas, the money you have, the people you meet or sometimes just falling in love with the place,” he says, adding that though he has one long documentary, five short films and one feature film, it isn’t even one per cent of what he has dreamed of doing.

But as a director, he tries to stay away from sci-fi, fantasy films, but wants a slice of reality even in his fiction films. And likewise he strikes a balance of including an element or a hypothesis of fiction while dealing with the subject of his documentaries. “Every format is important, and there’s no one format better than the other,” he states. He goes on to say that if he is lucky enough to make a film about India it will be a fiction film. Meanwhile he is learning about Indian cinema and stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt.

Away from family, here in Goa, his travel plans are in place for film festivals here. From Rajasthan, he will travel to Bengaluru and then Aurangabad and hopefully back home where the pandemic has wrecked havoc.

In fact, he states, his film ‘Long Time No See’, was about to hit the theatres back home when the country went into lockdown, and now once it’s lifted it will be “a war of films” as there are so many films that have to be released commercially.

Filmon however did not let the lockdown affect his work. In March 2020 a film of his was supposed to be screened at a film festival in Valence, but unfortunately a lockdown was imposed in France on the very same day. So, he used the lockdown period to translate the autobiography of Paul Hirsch from English to French.

Now, getting set for his screenings at Sunaparanta, he expresses happiness that his film ‘Long Time No See’ is getting a good response, and he hopes to interact with Goan film buffs on Saturday and Sunday.


Saturday | March 13, 2021 | 7 p.m.

Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond (2016)

Cast: John Travolta, Isabelle Huppert, John Boorman, Peter Fonda

Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes

Premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this documentary explores the life and artistry of one of the virtuoso founding fathers of contemporary cinematography, the Hungarian-born neorealist Vilmos Zsigmond.

Sunday | March 14, 2021 | 7 p.m.

Long Time No See (2019)

Cast: Laëtitia Eïdo, Pierre Rochefort, Ronald Guttman, Estéban, Alexia Séféroglou, Farid Cherchari

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes

Shot in just five days, this film was recently screened during IFFI under the World Panorama section. It is about two people who, though for a brief time, were intensely in love in the past and quite unexpectedly, meet at a railway station after nine years and have only 80 minutes to spare.