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The Sisters Brothers was feted Tuesday night in Deauville, receiving the French film festival’s honorary film prize.
Director Jacques Audiard, stars John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, writer Thomas Bidegain and producer Alison Dickey took to the stage, where it was all about Audiard as he talked about his childhood memories of the seaside city.
The award was presented by jury president Sandrine Kiberlain, who starred in Audiard’s A Self-Made Hero (1996), and Leila Bekhti, who starred in the filmmaker’s A Prophet (2009).
The Sisters Brothers, which premiered Sunday night in Venice, has received strong reviews, especially for Reilly. Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, the actor shot down speculation that they had held the film back from Cannes to increase its odds for Oscar consideration.
The Sisters Brothers had been widely tipped for Cannes earlier this year, in part because French filmmaker Audiard has a long association with France’s biggest festival and has won a best screenplay prize, a jury prize and the Palme d’Or there.
“We applied to all the festivals we could as the film was ready, we didn’t hold it back from anything and as far as I am concerned I certainly didn’t,” said Reilly, who also served as executive producer on the pic.
“The producer is Annapurna, an American producer, and it was not at all about the course of Oscar, rather the release date in the autumn; therefore effectively they preferred Venice and Toronto,” said Audiard, though he didn’t say whether the fall release date itself had been strategic.
Audiard also added that he hopes the movie will compete for awards in the best film category and will not be submitted as a foreign film, even though it was shot in Europe.
The director added that he made the film because he wanted to work with these particular actors, not because he wanted to make an American film or to make a Western. Writer Bidegain added that he wrote the script in French before it was translated to English for the production.
The normally taciturn Phoenix jumped in to say that he wanted to work with Audiard “because of the way he talked about the characters.”
Audiard, who was wearing a pin to show his support for the 50/50 by 2020 equality pledge and blasted Venice for its lack of female filmmakers, responded to a question about the lack of female characters in his film by noting that there were more women on the production team than male and that he wanted to stay true to the time period onscreen.
For his part, Reilly said that he brought Audiard the material and wanted to work with the French director to change the tone of the film: “[We] were looking for a director to the story that would have an objective point of view and wouldn’t be loaded down with this bullshit nostalgia that the Americans have about the West, so perhaps we could avoid the cliches we’ve seen in other Westerns.”
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