President of the Cinémathèque Française, FACF Honorary President
I was very lucky to have been able to come to France from Greece when I was young. The initial plan was for me to go to the U.S.; I had family there that owned a company. Who knows what I would have become—a businessman?
I studied film at the IDHEC and I was fortunate to be welcomed into the world of French cinema and by individuals such as Simone Signoret and Yves Montand.
They often talked to me about the U.S. in a positive manner—it was America that had come knocking at their door. That was a lesson for me.
My first film went over very well there and consequently I received a lot of screenplays, but I turned down most of them because I didn’t feel capable of seeing them through.
I declined The Godfather because I hadn’t liked the book, but Coppola made a magnificent film out of a bad book!
I was later warmly welcomed by Americans when I made Missing, even if some people said I was a communist, or anti-American. I believe there are several Americas; I have enjoyed discovering this nation of diverse people with contrasting ideas. We have all learned from American cinema and we continue to do so today.
I have been involved with the FACF almost from the start. I’ve watched its evolution: this relationship between the film worlds is essential and must absolutely be maintained.
It’s a true friendship, each learns about the other and at the same time represents their own interests.
I am happy to see young audiences at COLCOA. It’s also good for young French filmmakers to visit the Hollywood legend up close to see that it is made up of human beings like them.
Of course there have been moments of crisis in the Franco-American relationship, above all around the time of the GATT. But now, Americans are on our side in terms of what we want in Europe; that quality films made with love must be given the possibility of being distributed.
We are united by our love for cinema, and our passion for making films that are diverse. What a sad world we would have with just one single culture. When you cherish people and the cinema, you have to have the courage to be honest about each other.
“Nobody’s perfect”, said Osgood to Jack Lemmon’s character at the end of Some Like it Hot.
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