Michael Mann

American screenwriter, director, producer, FACF Board Member, DGA Board Member

Michael Mann rectangulaire

I was in film school in London from 1965 to 1967 and stayed on in Europe because I was opposed to the war in Vietnam. Interestingly, there were also Portuguese students avoiding being drafted into the Portuguese military’s attempts to repress independence movements in Angola and Mozambique, which was a large conflict in 1965, and white South Africans opposed to the apartheid regime who couldn’t return. It was a very politically active time. The uprisings in Paris in May and June 1968 were stunning and I was looking for a way to get there. Because significant figures in the Paris manifestations wouldn’t talk to American media but would talk to us, to a friend of mine at the Sorbonne and myself, we were able to shoot interviews and a small amount of documentary footage that summer and into the fall. The films that catalysed my convictionto become a director were Pabst’s The Joyless Street and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Also influential was the French New Wave, particularly Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour and Last year in Marienbad, as well as George Franju’s Le Sang des bêtes and Thomas l’imposteur, Max Ophüls’ Lola Montès and Jean-Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers. My connection to the FACF came about through John Frankenheimer, Gil Cates and Jay Roth. Frankenheimer loved most things French, and Jay and he asked me if I would participate in COLCOA: the result was working with our friends in France. The basic French concept of authors’ rights is something I feel stongly about. In the U.S., the opposite prevails. Every professional screenwriter and director signs an author’s certificate, saying that he or she is not the author of what he or she authored. I’m in favor of a system that benefits authors with state-collected royalties. The connections we’ve made over the years, the friendships, are terribly important. In Paris there is always a dinner that brings together directors and writers from both countries. The strong bonds created have their foundation in common experience. One of the most poignant memories I have regards John Frankenheimer. After his death we went to the Tour d’Argent with Jay Roth and Gil Cates. After Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Frankenhiemer fell into a deep depression. He took time away from the industry and went to work in the kitchen at the Tour d’Argent for a significant period of time. After his death, we had a great dinner there in his honor.

Michael Mann

Discover our other testimonials