Dialogue: Anna Karina

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Iconic French actress-writer-director-producer-composer-singer Anna Karina will bring her wide talents into play this year as head of the Pusan International Film Festival's New Currents jury. Darling of the New Wave, the Danish-born Karina first came to prominence as the muse and later wife of director Jean-Luc Godard. She starred in many of his films, notably "Pierrot le fou" and "Alphaville," and also starred in films from New Wave luminaries Agnes Varda and Jacques Rivette. Karina's second film as director, "Victoria," is being presented in PIFF's World Cinema section this year. On the eve of her first trip to South Korea, she talked to The Hollywood Reporter's French correspondent Charles Masters.

The Hollywood Reporter: How are you approaching your role as jury president in Pusan?
Anna Karina: It's not the first time I've been president of a festival jury; I've done it several times before. Obviously it's an adventure because it takes place in a country that I don't yet know, so I'm quite excited. I've heard a lot of good things about this festival, so it should be a wonderful adventure. The first thing is to see the films. I'm not going to tell you how I work; I've got my own little system. But I think you have to speak with your heart, and we have to agree among us which are the three best films.

THR: You're going to see 14 films from very diverse origins across the wider Asia region. Are you familiar with Asian cinema?
Karina: I know the kind of Asian cinema that finds its way to Paris. But I can't say I know it as well as French, Italian or other European cinema because there are fewer (Asian) releases here (in France). But it's a very interesting prospect to discover these films. I hope they're subtitled in English, otherwise I won't understand much.

THR: You're also going to present your latest film as director, "Victoria." What is the film about and how did you come to make it?
Karina: In fact it was a film that was initially destined to be made with two French singers and set in Quebec. It was going to star Philippe Katerine, who's now a star in France. But he couldn't be in the film because he went on tour. So I transposed the story and found two Canadian singers to replace the two French ones, played by Jean-Francois Moran and Emmanuel Reichenbach. It's a road movie which recounts their adventures on tour and their encounter with the mysterious Victoria, who is played by me. At times you wonder what's going on, but you don't know until the end. If you like, on one level it's a human manipulation; she sort of kidnaps them. It's a micro-budget film that we shot in 19 days. We must have covered 4,000 miles because Quebec is enormous. It's an entirely Canadian production produced by Hejer Charf.

THR: This is your first film as writer-director since "Living Together" in 1973. What made you go back behind the camera?
Karina: I was on tour for 61⁄2 years with Philippe Katerine. We met Hejer Charf in Spain when we were giving a concert in Bilbao, and she invited us to Canada and said why don't you shoot the film here? She said she'd produce it, so I wrote the screenplay. At the last minute, Katerine couldn't participate in the film as an actor, but he wrote the music, because there are songs in the film.

THR: You are giving a master class in cinema here in Pusan on Oct. 8. What kind of lesson would you like to give?
Karina: I don't exactly how this class will be structured. I suppose people will ask me questions and I'll answer. It depends what people ask, but I'll try to answer with my heart. You know, everyone is so different in this world that I don't think you should impose your point of view. Life's like a game of chess with feelings. I started in cinema aged 14, so it's been a long, long road full of adventures and good moments but also some disappointments. We sometimes think we've made a good film, but of the 80 or so films I've made, they aren't all masterpieces. It still gives me great pleasure that I receive a lot of letters from some very young people, and when I present films abroad its usually to audiences of between 15 and 35 years old, which proves that films like "Pierrot le fou" still have an appeal, even for a 17-year-old today. That gives me a lot of pleasure.

VITAL STATS

Head of New Currents jury
Nationality: French
Date of birth: Sept. 22, 1940
Film in Pusan: "Victoria"
(World Cinema)
Selected filmography: "The Nun" (1966), "Pierrot le Fou" (1965), "Alphaville" (1965), "The Outsiders" (1964), "The Little Soldier" (1963), "Cleo From 5 to 7" (1962), "A Woman is a
Woman" (1961)
Notable awards: Cesar nomination best supporting actress, "Cayenne Palace" (1988); Berlin International Film Festival best actress award, "A Woman is a Woman" (1961)
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