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French director's offbeat war film wows IFFI

Panaji, Nov 30 (IANS) French music video maker-turned-film director Florent Emilio Siri, who achieved international fame in 2005 with 'Hostage', is in Goa to present his new French film, 'The Intimate Enemy'.

2007-11-30T09:02:00Z

Panaji, Nov 30 (IANS) French music video maker-turned-film director Florent Emilio Siri, who achieved international fame in 2005 with 'Hostage', is in Goa to present his new French film, 'The Intimate Enemy'.

It is an intense war film that, for the first time ever, lays bare the unseemly but rarely acknowledged aspects of the role of the French Army in the Algerian conflict of the 1950s.

'It is a story that I always wanted to tell,' says Siri about the film that was screened at the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Wednesday and wowed audiences. It is being shown again Friday.

'Politics and historical imperatives have kept the Algerian War out of public discourse. It's a taboo war, not to be spoken about. When I went to school, our history books had only four lines on the conflict.'

'The Intimate Enemy' depicts the psychological impact that war has on individuals through the story of two hardened soldiers, one an idealist and the other a cynic, who realise as they sink further into the quagmire of violence that their worst enemy is in their souls.

The film is based upon 40 years of research by historian Patrick Rotman, who has co-written the screenplay of 'The Intimate Enemy'.

'Every little detail in the film,' the director says, 'has been drawn from true, documented incidents. It took us nearly five years to write the screenplay.'

His 'Hostage' was a $55 million Hollywood action flick starring Bruce Willis.

Starting his career as a fiction filmmaker with a social drama revolving around the fate of striking coal mine workers in the Lorraine region of France, Siri went on to direct a successful French action film, 'The Nest'. The stylistic flourishes in the film caught Bruce Willis' attention and Siri's career went into top gear.

'I have a reputation as a maker of action films. So critics in France were sceptical about my ability to pull off a politically sensitive war film,' says Siri.

'But the popular and critical response to the film has been really encouraging. It's been running in France for eight weeks. That's really great because these days the life of a film is rarely more that three to four weeks,' he adds.

Is he planning to return to Hollywood for his next film? 'I would love to make films both in the US and France, and wherever else an opportunity comes along,' he says.

India is on his radar, too. 'I would be keen to follow in the footsteps of Jean Renoir and Alain Corneau and shoot a film in India one day. I would love to have my feet in different cultures. Six years ago, I did a music video in Mumbai for a French band. I had a great time.'

Siri has several projects in the pipeline. 'Let us see which one gets off the ground first,' he says.

On the anvil is a film on Christopher Rocancourt, a French conman who passed himself off as a Rockefeller and duped many wealthy Americans, including movie star Mickey Rourke. He served a five-year jail term in New York before returning to France.

Also in the pipeline is a US studio film about Dracula before he became Dracula and an action-packed escape drama. But all that is in the future. For now, Siri is basking in the glow of the positive notice that his offbeat war film has received at the 38th International Film Festival of India.

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