Spending 'Summer Hours' with Olivier Assayas

The Deauville American Film Festival’s jury president talks to THR.


Olivier Assayas has had quite a lot of jury duty this year. After a spot on Robert De Niro's jury at this year's Festival de Cannes in May, the French director is now heading up his own jury at the 37th annual Deauville American Film Festival. His Summer Hours had a strong run at the U.S. box office and the director received a Golden Globe nod and critical acclaim for his feature film and mini-series Carlos. Assayas has been in Deauville all week screening this year's crop of competition titles made in U.S.

In between screenings and schmoozing, Assayas sat down with THR's France Correspondent Rebecca Leffler for a quick chat before he heads to Italy to wrap shooting 1970s drama Something in the Air.

The Hollywood Reporter: Why did you accept the proposal to head up the jury this year in Deauville?

Olivier Assayas: Because I’d already had a good experience when I was jury president of the Deauville Asian Film Festival. Plus, the selection of films was very interesting. It was an opportunity to see American films that I don’t always have the opportunity to see. I was on the jury at the Festival de Cannes then filmed a movie and will film the rest for a week in Italy after this, so this is a nice pause, though of course it’s not a vacation.

THR: Your films have been very successful in the U.S. – do you have any desire to work with Hollywood yourself?

Assayas: I’d like to, but it would have to be the right context. The two cinemas are very different. I’ve always had a lot of freedom in France, so I always wondered how it would be in the U.S. I think I’ll end up doing something in the end.

THR: Deauville is especially star-powered this year, from your A-list Gallic jury to the Hollywood talents, but talent attendance has dwindled compared to recent years – do you think the festival is still relevant?

Assayas: There are two sides to Deauville. There are the premieres with the stars and it’s true that Deauville is less crucial than other eras. But the specificity of Deauville is its competition and that never lost quality. It’s the only festival that’s completely focused on U.S. cinema in the world.

THR: Your films have traveled around the world. When you’re making a film, what audience do you have in mind?

Assayas: I make films thinking of an international independent cinema audience. It’s very restrictive to make “Franco-Francais,” very French films. I always thought of my films as pertinent to French cinema, but also as opening borders. I don’t think cinema has borders.

THR: So what’s next for you after Something in the Air?

Assayas: I have a few projects in the works, but nothing is concrete yet. We’ll see.