9:30 PM, July 2, 2022
He gave us an appointment at his editorial room offices. On the morning of Monday, June 20, we arrived at the entrance to a stately building on Park Avenue, a stone’s throw from Central Park. At the reception, the doorman wants to escort us himself to the Manhattan Film Center of Mr. Woody Allen. You have to go to the end of the luxurious marble hall and do not miss the small corridor on the right that leads to an all-white door without any pattern. Whoever rediscovers, this time displaying a beautiful all-wood frame. Inside, assistant director Annie Hall (1977) greets us with a big smile. “Mr. Allen is so glad you came from Paris to meet him. He has been very quiet since the pandemic, so he enjoys seeing people again.”
On the walls are posters of the director’s classics with four Oscars; On the shelves are art books, old movie magazines, a few tin cans of films. And on a soft sofa, Woody Allen is ready to trust. At 86, the hair is still white, the silhouette has shrunk a little, but the spirit is sharp and the responses are still mutual. Even if sometimes it is necessary, a poorly-communicated Sonoton obliges to ask questions of the person whose new film we will finally find out, Rifkin FestivalJuly 13: The story of an old film teacher who pursues his wife’s press attache at the San Sebastián Film Festival because he suspects she has an affair with a young French director…
How are you after these two years of the epidemic?
my wife [Soon-Yi Previn] And I was lucky I didn’t catch Covid. When I walk down the street, I am very careful: I change the sidewalks as soon as there are a lot of people. But confinement didn’t change much in my routine: I, who loved spending time at home, had an excellent excuse to stay lounging between my bed and my desk. Since I didn’t see anyone, I wrote more than usual: I worked on film projects, plays and a book collecting humorous short stories published in the New Yorker, as well as some other unpublished stories: Zero Gravity, just released in the US. I had so much fun because they are little stories whose life ends as soon as they are printed. It has nothing to do with a scenario where the problem starts once it’s complete! We have to go out and find funding. This is the hardest part of this job.
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Is this the case over that day?
This has been my main problem throughout my career. I had a hard time raising a million dollars, which wasn’t a lot, to take the grief and shoot yourself! . It hasn’t changed since then. So when the Spanish producers offered me money to shoot in their country, I immediately said yes. Since filming was supposed to start in the summer, I thought of going back to the San Sebastian Film Festival, where the heat is less stifling, and decided to make it the venue for the Rifkin Festival.
What would your dream movie be?
I would like, only once, to have enough money to not have to compromise, give up extra days of filming or settle for a 20-person team when I need 50…Writing off my manager’s salary often happens to revamp the coffers! This is what will make me happy: When I ask for $10 million for a movie, I’m not asked to do it for only $9 million…
With accusations of raping your adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, are you afraid you won’t be able to film anymore?
I am a writer and no one can stop me from writing and therefore from working. It is the guarantee of my freedom and independence.
Some artists like Timothée Chalamet have said that they regret their acting in your films. Worried about not attracting stars anymore?
I’ve heard many actors say to me: “I will do anything to work with you.”But often, when I called them to offer them a role, they found I wasn’t paying them enough and they couldn’t fit me into their schedule. It’s pure myth that I can afford all of Hollywood. I have never been able to impress such talented actors as Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt…
in Rifkin FestivalEnjoy revisiting some of the great films that marked the history of cinema.
It is my appreciation of the masterpieces of the great European masters that made me want to do this work. No need to take a few minutes of Godard, Fellini or Bergmann’s time! On the subject, I have a touching thought of Jean-Louis Trentinant, that formidable actor who just left us and who personified this golden age with great elegance.
Why was this movie released in 2019 so late and not worldwide?
He was a victim of an epidemic! It was shown in Spain and five days later the cinemas closed. Same in Italy… In the US, he stayed in theaters for two weeks before ending up on the streaming platform. And once again, I was forced to understand that I was given a favour! People from studios are now explaining that promoting a movie costs too much, more and more cinemas are out of business… Attendance has been down for a while and Covid has pushed the last nail in the coffin! I don’t want to continue working in such an atmosphere.
I’m part of a generation for whom going out to see a movie was a wonderful moment.
Can’t imagine directing for Netflix or Amazon like many of your colleagues?
I can not solve it. I’m part of a generation that had a great moment going out to see a movie: We were happy to get dressed, share emotions with hundreds of people in the dark, and then go and chat over a drink. Or eat good food. Dinner. It has never been easier to live a group experience with 6000 spectators at Radio City Music Hall in New York! Today, a movie ticket is very expensive and people prefer to spend $10 on a platform subscription to watch a movie with family or friends. Especially when it’s raining and it’s cold outside… can we blame them for choosing a comfortable sofa? We can resist, but at some point we won’t be able to fight anymore. When that happens, I’ll start writing for the stage. So I will take full advantage of the next shoot scheduled for this fall. It may be the last!
Where will it happen?
You have! I move to Paris in September, for a two-year-old project that has been postponed due to Covid. This will be my fiftieth feature film. I found funding in the US, but the cast is entirely French and the film will be shown in your language. You have already chosen the main actors. The story will be in the context of Match Point: a kind of amorous and poisonous excitement. I have fond memories of filming Minuit à Paris, in 2010. I really love this city and have come to it often, discovering charming places every time. My daughter Manzi Teo is currently in Paris filming the new season of the series Emily in Paris [sur Netflix].
will help you?
She’s way too busy! Unlike her geeky father, she prefers to work in television: for the new generation, this is where everything happens. What interests her is not writing, but participating in the adventure of photography by playing production or directing assistants. I am so proud of her.
Have you started consuming the chain as well?
Start ! I watch the news, eat dinner, and then settle in front of the broadcast of American football, basketball or baseball games. It’s the only thing that interests me on TV.
Do you keep playing the clarinet?
naturally ! And I’ve had plenty of time to exercise at home for the past two years. I do my exercises on the treadmill, and as soon as my old body is warm, I grab my machines. I’m sad that I couldn’t train with my teams. I don’t even know if we’ll ever be able to meet again: Band leader, Eddie Davis, who played the banjo, tragically died of Covid, and the Carlisle Hotel’s small concert hall, where we used to happen, hasn’t reopened yet.
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The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, climate change… Are you worried about the future?
How not to be? Our planet is not at its best. I think it is part of the fault of the United States, which has not shown real leadership: internationally by losing interest in NATO, but also in our country with Democrats and Republicans becoming particularly aggressive towards each other… Humankind is what it is: a flawed faction Never learn from her mistakes. The world would be better off if there were only birds, deer, or even crocodiles on Earth.
Does death scare you?
I don’t like getting old and feeling like my body is giving up on me: I have to wear hearing aids that bother me, my eyesight isn’t good anymore… but I’m not worried about leaving this world. Albert Einstein said you only live once and that’s enough. I agree with him.
Do you have any regrets?
My life is an endless chain of regrets! I didn’t finish my studies, to make more different movies, to not insist more with some of the women I was in love with, and to show myself too adventurous towards others… for not receiving more roles as an actress either. I read that Stanley Kubrick wanted me to playclosed eyesbut he didn’t send me anything.
What title would you give the movie of your life?
“Portrait of a Boring Man”. People think I like my stories: funny, fun, sparkling… But when they meet me, they are often disappointed with my pettiness. Even my contraction told me my analysis was nothing special!
What would you say to God if you met him?
“You are fired!” I am so angry at him now.