Sébastien Buchmann AFC on lensing a new take on a legendary lothario
When actor and ladies’ man Laurent (Tahar Rahim) is jilted on his wedding day by his fiancée Julie (Virginie Efira), it marks the start of an obsession. In his sixth feature film, French director Serge Bozon spins the traditional narrative of “Don Juan” on its head. This time, the libertine has just one conquest in mind: his ex-partner.
Laurent sees Julie in every woman he meets and, in true cinematic fashion, attempts to woo them by serenading them. Meanwhile, the real Julie comes back into his life when she is asked to star opposite him in a staging of Molière’s 1665 play Don Juan.
This unusual musical marks the first collaboration between actor-turned-director Bozon and Sébastien Buchmann AFC. Buchmann, who trained at France’s prestigious École Nationale Supérieure Louis-Lumière film school near Paris, is known for his long-standing pairings with directors like Nicolas Pariser (Le Parfum Vert, Alice et le Maire). Bozon’s sister, Céline, is an esteemed cinematographer in her own right – in fact, she is currently co-president of the AFC – and has lensed all but one of her brother’s past features.
“I’ve known Serge for a long time,” says Buchmann. “I think the first feature film I shot as a cinematographer was Pierre Léon’s L’Adolescent, which Serge was acting in. With “Don Juan” it wasn’t possible for Céline to do it, so Serge asked me. I wanted to do it even before reading the script!
“It’s always interesting the first time you work with a director. Serge has a very strong ‘universe’ and to enter it takes time. The script is very precise – it’s not just got the narrative but a lot of other things. As “Don Juan” is a musical, there were mentions of the dance, the music, and the camera too.”
“Don Juan” was one of 25 films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival that were shot on Kodak film. “Serge didn’t want to shoot digital – he has made all his films on film,” explains Buchmann. “He once told me that he preferred to shoot on film because on gloomy days, with not very good sets… in digital, it’s ugly. You see the banality of the reality, and he is not interested in that. But with film, there is something cinematic about it. I have to admit, I love shooting in 35mm. I like the lighting and those little ‘accidents’.”
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