Article

Meeting with Director and Screenwriter Etienne Comar

Interview by FIS students about his two award winning films “Des Hommes et des Dieux” and “Django”.

A film is about mixing reality and imagination to create a message that grabs attention. Etienne Comar

The talk was in two parts organised around questions asked by students in Première about two of his films: Des Hommes et des Dieux, Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival (2010) et Best Film César (2011), and Django, Grand Prix du Jury (2017) et opening film for (2017).

“Des Hommes et des Dieux” (Of Gods and Men)

Etienne Comar wanted to write a film about religious conflicts which would consider the philosophical question about the strength of belief.

His work not only tells the story of the monks’ lives but it also responds to philosophical, human questions which we can ask ourselves, questions about man and his place in the world.

I wrote the script alone and sent it anonymously to Xavier Beauvois who I already knew for some time. I knew he was looking to make a film about this and I tried my luck.

Xavier Beauvois? Because his films are incredibly believable; they give true, greater details about life. They also convey a beautiful poetry which touches people.”

He also revealed that as Brother Christian wrote a diary, most of the scenes are authentic and the dialogue is not made up.

Django

Etienne Comar’s desire to make this film came from his father’s passion for Django music which allowed him to forget the ‘reality’ of the world he was living in during the same war.

I really liked working on this character as he represented several things at the same time: cowardice and bravery; shyness and confidence. Django, shy by nature, uses his guitar to express himself. Moreover, working on this film allowed me to learn and understand his culture.

He asks us: “And you, do you think music is a weapon or a diversion of war?” It’s up to you to decide.

The different aspects of cinema

Editing is one of the most difficult periods – long and critical in the creation of a film as it is from this stage that a badly shot film can be saved from possible failure or vice versa.

He revealed the diverse characteristics of French and American actors.

Sometimes, certain American actors overdo the role. For us French, it is impossible to interpret a role with such heroism. But it is this aspect that brings a different vision to a film or a scene: our actors, they disappear behind the role.   

From his responses, we were able to learn more about his life as well as the specifics of different jobs in the cinema.  For example, as a producer, you need to know how to speak to actors, make yourself understood and above all heard.

You have to find the way in with an actor.

Instant reactions

I really enjoyed this meeting and the fact that we were able to discover the world of cinema from a different point of view. Antonin D.

Etienne Comar knew how to find the right words, he gave really full answers to each of the questions asked by the students.  Finally, it was a beneficial meeting in terms of guidance for students that doesn’t happen every day. Madame Faci (teacher)

Terrific meeting which allowed me to increase my knowledge in terms of filmmaking. I found out about two films I won’t put off seeing. The small number of people in the room allowed for a more intimate meeting with Etienne Comar and I really liked his sincerity. Charlotte F.

A huge Thank You to Etienne Comar, the Alliance Française, the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, FIS students in 1ere, the librarians and the students who volunteered their opinions on this meeting.

Read the complete reports by students in 3ème C and Seconde D about the meeting in the linked documents. 

Monsieur Comar, sur une scène perché,

Tenait en son bec un César.

Maîtres Renards, par les films alléchés,

Lui tinrent à peu près ce langage:

“ Eh! Bonjour monsieur Comar.

Que vous êtes talentueux! Que vous nous semblez fort!

Sans mentir, si votre talent,

Rend vos films époustouflants,

Vous êtes le Phoenix du grand cinéma.”

À ces mots Comar déborde de joie;

Et pour montrer son talent,

Il dévoile tous ses secrets en souriant.

Le renard s’enhardit, et  Comar répondit: “ Mon bon monsieur,

Apprenez que moi producteur

Suis cash et mou

Avec ceux qui, pour moi, jouent. »

Comar, heureux et ému,

Jura que cette rencontre lui a plu.

Les Renards de 2D