Director Ira Sachs and lead Franz Rogowski discussed their film “Passages” at an exclusive screening in London on Friday.
The screening was the first of a series of exclusive Q&A events curated by Variety in partnership with brand and culture consultancy BSBP targeted at BAFTA and AMPAS voters as well as key players in the showbiz community in the U.K., taking place at London’s The Cinema at Selfridges. Variety and BSBP teamed with film distributor, global streaming service and production company MUBI for the first screening in the series, “Passages,” written and directed by Sachs.
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The screening was accompanied by a Q&A conducted by Variety critic Guy Lodge with Sachs and Rogowski. The sexually frank relationship drama, about a polysexual Parisian love triangle, also stars Ben Whishaw and Adele Exarchopoulos, and premiered to great acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, also playing at the Berlinale. It made headlines Stateside when the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating, prompting MUBI to release it unrated instead.
“Somehow, the whole debate about sex being the most intimate space, I find it a bit hypocritical because it also touches so many things like ownership, like who owns my body? What does it mean to be intimate with someone?,” Rogowski said. “It touches so many fields that I feel like intimacy coordination is very interesting. But if we only talk about sex in terms of intimacy and then give an NC-17 rating to a movie like this, there’s something off, I think.”
“I’ve tried to make films about human beings and human lives and human relationships,” Sachs added. “I also wanted to make a sexy film, like I wanted to make a film that didn’t shy away from skin and bodies and lights and forms and sex. But I couldn’t have done it without the actors, like I can create those scenes, but they’re actually giving us those scenes. So there’s a level of generosity.”
The filmmaker revealed that he was drawn to Rogowski’s performance in Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” (2017) and he and writer Mauricio Zacharias wrote the film for the actor. Discussing the chemistry between the actors that is palpable in the film, Rogowski said: “It’s really important to get to a space where you don’t have to prepare for the outcome of what might happen during a scene, a way where you can explore together, and maybe even get to a point where things are different than you might have expected in the beginning.”
Sachs added: “What’s significant is [that] in this film, and all my films, I don’t rehearse before I start shooting. We spend time together, we spent a lot of time figuring out costumes and wardrobe in this film, which was really significant. We enjoy each other, but we arrived without any conversations about motivation, backstory, all these things that might become language that the actors might produce, I don’t want them to know where they’re going.”
“They’ve never heard the lines before, they don’t really know what the other actor is going to give them. And they don’t know how the lines are gonna sound coming out of themselves. So that’s a pretty dangerous place. But I think it’s also exciting,” Sachs said.
BSBP, which was founded by Bethani Stainfield-Bruce in 2016, is a brand and culture consultancy specializing in creating, executing and nurturing partnerships between brands and the film, music and entertainment industries.
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