Mathieu Kassovitz talks about La Haine’s screening in London and a possible sequel
How does it feel like, that your movie became such a cult worldwide?
M.K: "It’s a great pleasure! It’s what every director wishes for at least once in his career, especially for a movie about politics and society. The fact that the movie keeps ringing, sending a message, can be a problem for me as well because it means that the problem remains and gets bigger. It doesn’t disappear. I would almost have preferred for the film to be forgotten, that it had remained a part of History, something that would have been dealt with so that we could move on, but unfortunately, it’s not the case and the movie still represents today, even for young people who were not born at that time, the same need to rebel and to express themselves by saying no, we don’t belong in this society."
Do you think this applies to France only or other countries in the world as well?
M.K: "When it came out, in 1995, it had already had a huge impact worldwide, for one reason, it was universal. And it was about all the teens around the world, were they in Italy, in Mexico, in the States, and of course in England. And the fact that it resounds today towards what is happening in England proves that the movie can reach out beyond frontiers. It is not a Franco-French problem, it’s a clash between the rich and the poor, worldwide, and it’s something that is getting even wider, especially this last few years with the social crisis, the political crisis and the economical crisis that are making the world shake. I think that the heart of the movie, is that it's a story about respect… the 'Police' represents the establishment we have in front of us, they are the people we are in contact with in the streets and who represent the government. It’s only that. But through them, we talk about something else, we speak to some other people and those are the people we want to reach. And that’s how the movie becomes universal."
Future Cinema is doing a massive screening of La Haine on May 2nd in Tottenham, right where the riots started last summer, what do you think about this choice?
M.K: "I think it’s a very bold move and a very respectful choice for the people of Tottenham. I think it can help some of the young people who participated in the riots in Tottenham. Some know about the movie, some don’t, but they will be able to debate around it. If there’s one thing to remember from La Haine it’s that it enabled a lot of young people to express their discontent after having seen the movie and not after what they could have done in the streets. So I think it’s neither a provocation, nor anything else and the people from Future Cinema understand the political involvement of this movie and the fact that it can resounds here as well today. And the French elections right after that are here for that as well. The English people know that what is happening right now in France with the elections is something that rings a bell back home and vice-versa. We are very close, in a Europe that is not well defined but still brings us together. And I think it’s a very good initiative, like doing it in the suburbs in France."
Did you take part in the pop-up cinema?
M.K: "No, I got to know about it when they contacted me. I had heard of screenings like this but for old movies, but there, the fact that Asian Dub Foundation performs live, and that there’s a happening-screening, I think it’s great! It’s exactly the kind of movie you need for that kind of event. And it’s also why we do that kind of movies. I am very proud, very happy, and very sad I can’t be there, but very happy to see it take such a turn."
Do you think you could do a sequel to La Haine, maybe even in England?
M.K: "I have to say I ask myself the same question time and again. I already have the storyline for La Haine 2, well, the sequel anyway, and since I’ve started talking with the people of Future Cinema, I have wondered whether the sequel would take place in France or in England. Because when you take a look at how the English youth is evolving, they kept something that we might have lost a little bit here because we just had five years of Sarkozy, well, ten years of Sarkozy that have quite discouraged us, that have completely removed the French moral, and there’s no longer that rebellious spirit that the English still have. Even when you listen to the music nowadays, when you listen to some French hip-hop, there’s no representation of the suburbs anymore, maybe except for guys like '113' or people like them, but it’s quite uncommon. But the voice of the suburb exists in England, with groups like 'Plan B' with people who are completely into that. They represent a very active generation in England."
So, there’s going to be a screening in Paris this weekend, are you going to attend?
M.K: "No, I’m in the United States right now, preparing for a movie, so I can’t come to either, but otherwise, I would have gone to both!"
La Haine is going to be screened on the eve of the presidential election, would you comment on that?
M.K: "Well, it’s very symbolic, especially for a whole generation of young people like me, and less young today of course. I kept the same 'haine' (hatred) that I had when I was 17, and I think we are a lot sharing that same feeling. I think it’s great to do it in a creative way and not a destructive one. What is actually funny is that the movie will have a greater success in England than it will have in France, because everyone in France saw it, it’s really part of our culture, and the event is less important than screening a foreign movie in a country where the people can identify themselves, it’s really surprising. So that’s why I think the event is going to be more important in England. In France, it’s more like a reminder of where we come from."
And what about the future French president ?
M.K: "We are at a dramatic turning point. I think that what is happening in France, politically wise, we have entered something quite pathetic and that’s one of the reasons why I’m slowly leaving France. If Sarkozy is back for another five years, it’s a tragedy, but François Hollande would mean an open door to Marine Le Pen in five years… So I can’t see a positive outcome out of this situation. I think the French don’t fight anymore and no longer have that spirit of rebellion that makes us who we are. They’ve managed to take that away from us. And that makes me extremely unhappy. But I’m extremely proud that this movie represents that need and that urge for justice."
La Haine will be screened on May 2nd at Broadwater Farm in Tottenham (Free screening) and at The Troxy on May 4th. It will also be screened in Paris at the Trianon on May 5th.