Berlin 2012: 'Farewell, My Queen' Star Diane Kruger Talks Arab Revolution, Lack of Sleep
BERLIN - The revolution in Arabic countries, the end of eras, class struggle, lack of sleep and the sexuality and sanity of Marie Antoinette - those were all topics at the first press conference of the year for a film in the Berlinale competition here on Thursday.
It focused on opening film Farewell, My Queen and included director Benoit Jacquot, stars Diane Kruger, Lea Seydoux and Virginie Ledoyen, as well as producers Kristina Larsen and Jean-Pierre Guerin, and writer Gilles Taurand.
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The press conference happened on the same day as Cohen Media Group announced that it has acquired the film for U.S. distribution. "We are proud for the opportunity to present the latest film by the internationally renowned director, Benoit Jacquot. This continues our commitment to bring the highest quality films by the directors we and film enthusiasts most admire to audiences in the United States," said Charles Cohen, chairman and CEO of Cohen Media.
"I hardly slept last night," Kruger said when asked how special this year's Berlinale appearance is for her. "I'm very excited and nervous about tonight."
Not only is it great to come home to Germany, but it is also an honor to be in the opening film, she explained. "It is a dream I would have never dreamt of," she said.
Asked why this film was special for her, she said she saw similarities to her career and life since she lives in France. "I was born on July 15, and my mother's name is Maria Theresia," she emphasized a parallel with Marie Antoinette. "A lot of things came together."
Kruger said portraying a historical figure is a particular challenge since "a lot of people already have opinions of this historical figure. They have already judged her." Her approach: "I was trying not to judge her...We have the same origins, the same age. I could relate to her as a woman."
Asked by an audience member who saw the film if she thought Marie Antoinette was a lesbian, Kruger said: "The way Benoit saw her she is borderline crazy...I don't think she's a lesbian."
With the film revolving around the French Revolution, a couple of questions focused on the topical Arab revolution and its link to the film.
"That is up to the audience to see that parallel," said Kruger. "We certainly didn't set out making a movie trying to resonate - we couldn't know what would happen today. Any revolution, particularly this one, is an abuse of power, is an abuse of money. And that is still going on these days. All of these movies, all of history that has happened is resonant today, because we seem, as people, to continue to make the same mistakes. But you never set out making a movie thinking this is going to resonate now."
Jacquot was also asked whether the year 2011, which saw an end of reigns and eras, was comparable to the plot of his film.
"That is the quintessence of the film," he said, pointing out that the French Revolution profoundly changed and shaped Europe. "That is the real heart of the film. I find that very positive and fascinating."
Asked about the topic of the battle between different social classes, he said: "Class struggle continues and remains a topic," he said. "It is touched upon here [in the film]."
The actresses were asked Thursday about Jacquot's reputation for being a director of women.
Seydoux agreed that he is "a great director of young femininity," while Ledoyen said he makes films "with a lot of desire." And Kruger added that he manages to "get inside the female psyche."
Kruger also acknowledged the nice historical dresses the actresses got to wear for the film, but called them a double-edged sword. "I personally hate historical films where people just look at dresses and hair," she said. "I had to forget that to do the film...You need to see the woman Marie Antoinette, not just the queen."