Author: Ryan Deussing --- Date: 02/09/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Jodie Foster was in New York in January to put in a few good words regarding Mathieu Kassovitz's latest film, HATE. Both Foster and Kassovitz were on hand for a round-table discussion which took place at the Regency Hotel January 30th.
The following is an excerpt from that discussion, in which several radio-journalists, myself included, posed questions to both directors.

Q: Jodie, why is this film so important to you that you've decided to get involved with its American release?

JF: It's a totally simple reason: I saw the film and completely fell in love with it and wanted to do whatever I could to make sure that as many people in America as possible got to see it. You know I've spent a lot of time in France and made French films, but I was really shocked to hear a truly sincere and contemporary voice that was as explosive and strong as it was entertaining. I was really moved by the film; I think it deals with violence in a way that's more mature than any film I've seen in the past ten years.

Q: Do you think that there a lot of movies that have really just fallen through the cracks of the American market, films which might have been a sensation, had they gotten the kind of support you're giving HATE?

JF: Well, 99% of the stories you hear--from studios, as well as from independents and foreign films--is that a movie got made, but somehow the distribution was mis-managed. In this case I'd like to share my little bit of knowledge concerning an American release with another filmmaker and to help him to release the film properly. This year more movies were made in America than in any other year in the history of filmmaking, I think, and it's important for European films not to get lost in the shuffle.

Q: What would make this movie a success in your eyes, both commercially and critically?

JF: Well, this movie is already an enormous success. First of all it's a great film, and that pretty much sums it up. It was a huge success in France and in Europe, and for what it's worth I expect it to change the French industry for the better, to allow younger filmmakers the chance that they might not normally receive. It's already done great damage.

Q: This film takes a lot from hip-hop culture, from American "hood" films. How do you feel about that?

MK: I don't consider HATE to be a hood-film. I don't really like these films. Hood films now are made by studios and have nothing to do with the reality they supposedly represent. The first hood-films did good things, in the way that the first hardcore hip-hop, like NWA, did good by letting people know the way things really are. But afterwards it became a money thing and was much different. HATE, even if it's making money. is an underground movie, that's how it was made. It's a film about police brutality in the largest sense, it's about the whole of society and not just about the hood.

Q: What was it like shooting on location in the projects?

MK: It was nice. Like anywhere, we had to make people understand that we were there with good intentions, and that we were there with respect. We started making contacts with the people in the neighborhood three months before shooting began, so that everyone involved was comfortable. We made it known that we were trying to show the reality of France. People think of Paris as the city of love or the city of light, but where you got love you got hate, where you got light you got darkness. [he chuckles at this phrase, which he has polished through repeated use]

Q: Did you study hip-hop culture to make this film?

MK: Did I study? Yeah, I've been studying hip-hop culture since 1983, so I know about it. When you talk about young kids living in the hood, everywhere in the world, American music, American dress, American attitude is really important. More people are going to Euro-Disney than to the Louvre. So American culture is really a part of our culture, in the same way the the hood is a part of French culture.

JF: The film speaks about the fusion of cultures, the way American culture has pretty much permeated the world. Some of that's a good thing, some of that's a bad thing, but you can't take it away. Part of what this film can do is to help Americans realize the impact of their culture on the world. And of course the world is getting worse. An important theme in the film is that the whole while the characters and the audience are expecting something awful to happen, and when they've managed to convince themselves that they've avoided disaster, it strikes. This movie is about the solution being love.

Q: Why do you think so few Americans go to see foreign films?

JF: Oh boy, that's just a big cultural problem in the US. Americans just aren't used to accepting the European influence that they live under. Hopefully America is starting to realize that they really are a part of the globe, and that there are other people out there. We're so huge that we don't have the access to other cultures that they do in France, for example. From shows like 90120 or whatever French people know the their way around Beverly Hills better than they know the outskirts of their own cities.

Q: You've said that you made HATE as a staement against the police, as an anti-police film. Do you anticipate that an American audience will understand that approach as well as you hope?

MK: The thing is I made a mistake in that case. I don't want people to understand the film as being anti-police, but as being against any form of a police-state. In France they spend six months training policemen, then they give them a gun and put them on the streets, and I don't know that that's enough. The film's not against the police--although I think that if someone wants to be a cop there's got to be a problem. I know that there are police that are trying hard to do the right thing, and the film is also abouth the way that the police are treated by the state.

Q: How was HATE received by the French government?

MK: Well, a special screening was set up for government officials, so they didn't have to see the experience of going to see the film. They certainly aren't going to the projects to see for themselves the situation. It's good that they've seen it, but how can I be satisfied after working for two years making a film which I hope will make a difference, when the government sees the film and does nothing about it?

Q: Were they disturbed?

MK: You can't be disturbed by this film, it would be disturbing if it portrayed something as real that was not. But nobody can claim that this film tells anything but the truth. If anything the film takes the situation and tones it down. The government said the movie was not very good, but they couldn't say it was not the truth.

Q: Are some people labeling you the voice of the Paris ghetto?

MK: I have a hard enough time speaking for myself--I don't pretend I can be a spokesman for anybody. I have no interest in playing that role. You don't have to be political to make a film like HATE, you can talk about society through the human perspective, something that everyone can underdstand. I'm not a politician; I'm lucky to be a filmmaker and to be able to express myself through the films I make.

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ed --

This is not Art- This is death


linlee --

From viewing Mr Kassovitz in a Commes des Garcons sweatshirt from a Marrch 95' copy of "W" MAGAZINE HOW COULD ONE SIMPLY IGNORE NOT ONLY THE CREATIVE GENIUS BEHIND THIS GUY'S FILM MAKING BUT ALSO HIS "SON OF A SPUNK" GOOD LOOKS - MATHIEU rocks any australian chiccks mind!!!

linlee --

From viewing Mr Kassovitz in a Commes des Garcons sweatshirt from a Marrch 95' copy of "W" MAGAZINE HOW COULD ONE SIMPLY IGNORE NOT ONLY THE CREATIVE GENIUS BEHIND THIS GUY'S FILM MAKING BUT ALSO HIS "SON OF A SPUNK" GOOD LOOKS - MATHIEU rocks any australian chiccks mind!!!

marty --

I absoulutely love the genuine thought and intelligence that Jodie Foster fowards into her analysis of certain topics. Her passion is aparent and I admire her wholehearted and down-to-earth approach to life.

ben --

Kasso is a great filmmaker



gearoid --

we are looking for as much info on m. kassovitz as regards acting,writing and directing as possible for a project i am doing for college. thanks gearoid


Yahanne --

Mathieu is the best ! I mean,he is really the best.This guy is a genuis who lights the whole world from his amazing artistic talent and his so damn right perception from reality! Since I saw La haine ( Hate),I know what movies really mean... He is not only great as a director,actor,writer,but he is exceptional as a person in all his integrity... Mathieu,go on to rule the people's mind and to "choquer les bourgeois",as you do so well! Assassin(s) is very good,even a certain category of people "que je qualifirais de coinceÚs" didn't understood it. Let s the fools where they are...There are enough good people to appreciate the honest movies and the honest causes... "TOUTE SOCIETE A LES CRIMES QU'ELLE MERITE... MAIS JUSQU'ICI TOUT VA BIEN..."

Jace --

Kassovitz's imagry and mise-en-scene is really incredible. I love the way the makes Vinz seem hy pocritical from the thrid scene with the Menorah in the background, and in the foreground argunig w/ this grandma about going to temple. Really great. but, despite her strong effort in putting out this film in the US, why is J. Foster being treated as a martyr adn as if she is the autuer?

jen --

wicked film

Cathy --

I love you, Mathieu