After 25 years in real estate in Luxury and as photographer, Alain Zirah decided to change its destiny and founded OFF Cannes Festival, in 2005. During 71st Cannes Film Festival, 2018 May, he was under the limelights during differents events in the best prestigious places. Who is that man?
- Alain Zirah, why would you think you’re fit to be a film maker?
At school, I liked to imagine stories. I wrote and drew comics. Then I began to shoot (very) short films in super 8 and later in video. So, I always be a storyteller. With Anne Gomis, we were co-directors for Forbidden Visions/Visions Interdites, a long feature in fantasy world about drug, with Bernard Destouches, Afida Turner and Jean-Luc Bosso. Now, I produce and direct a new digital series called Kat Ladies. It’s about Girl Power. New heroins are fighting against a serial killer. But they take their sweet revenge against their ex-boyfriends. A good film maker takes you by the hand and tells you a so incredible story that you don’t release his hand. A good director choose the good history, first, but also a good casting. And he must lead the actors with very precise and rigorous way and then let the actors express their own ideas. If they are good actors they just have to be themselves.
- What are your goals as a film maker?
I am a great film fan and I go very often to the movie theatre. I like blockbusters and experimental cinema. So, I like to bring my audience in my unique own interior world. Usually there are several beautiful women in very colored ambiances. I like thin but strong women, fighting bad men only with their brains. If people get new sensations and strong emotions with images that will remain engraved into his brain, they will ask to watch more film. Sounds and music are as essential as character, too. I was born to love music, so rock and classical tracks are very important in my universe. From David Bowie to Steely Dan. But I also like electronic sound like actually Calvin Harris.
- Why did you create OFF Cannes Festival
I went to Cannes International Film Festival till 1983. My first contact was Nagisa Oshima and Furyo’s team. Then, in 2005, I realized there was a huge OFF festival in Avignon and not in Cannes. At the same time, I met several multi-talents artists who couldn’t enter in the categories of the festival. So, I decided to create the first OFF event with a pin to award Mark W. Gray, a young American director in Majestic Bar. He received the first Golden OFF palm pin on his tuxedo. Six years later, he was awarded as best director in New York festival. Now, for the third year on a row, we present our artists in the Intercontinental Carlton ballroom.
- Do you belong to Cannes Festival organisation?
As an independent artist, I didn’t ask anything to Gilles Jacob who was the president. I respect and appreciate the man but wanted to bring new young blood. I was the first one who awarded bloggers. I have rewarded Mark W. Gray for its Rocket Pictures blog where he told its 2005 festival with texts and photos. Hugo Mayer was the second blogger who received an OFF palm Award, in 2007. Emir Kusturica, the serbian director who get two Golden Palms at Cannes Festival, was our godfather for that unique event. During May 2018, we decided to reward again Hugo Mayer for the great job in blogreporter® during ten years but also for his new blogdecannes®. And we get a kind of consent when we had a crossed interview with Gilles Jacob, Cannes festival president during 40 years, during our dedicaces in a bookshop near the palais.
- You are a photographer who work with .
During several years I was a photo reporter for a great press agency. My pics are in magazines everywhere in the world. Now I work as a photographer, I am very strict about the quality, the light and the quality of the model. For me each instant is unique. You can’t make the same pic with the same emotion another day. Of cause a good photography is a good work of the photographer and the model. The psychology is very important to create the perfect mood. When you present your photography in an exhibition, you need to tell a story, sometimes simple, or complex, but it’s always a question of feeling between the model, the photographer and the visitor.
- Alain Zirah, you’re also famous as a writer. Why did you call your last book Forbidden to Men? Do you have any problems with men?
I don’t have any problems with men, even if I prefer compagny of women. When you put together several men, they seek competition. The confrontation! The one who speaks the stronger, or which has lived the most interesting things. The one who has the most success with the girls. Men have always want to fight. On a sports field or in making war. Women prefer talking about life and education… and they are shoe addicts. I like so much the time when you enter into the privacy, when they shave their legs, at home, or put some varnish on their nails. I like to spend hours at the hairdresser listening to their conversation. And at last, women always ruled the world. From queen of Sheba and Cleopatra to business women of our XXI st century, they know exactly what they want. And how they’ll get it.
- How do you communicate with people?
Today, your best companions are your Smartphone and Google. Everybody googlizes my name. We can’t live without any phone. I wake up with Facebook, emails and messenger. Long time ago, we only had message by phone calls and letters. Now, we send mails and posts. There are so many ways to be contacted that sometimes you discover six months old messages within old social medias. I am very close to people using social networks and calling foreign countries with WhatsApp. People can see my films on my YouTube channel. We’re alone on the beach and the video shot there can be seen everywhere in the world. ‘The times they are a-changing’ (courtesy of Bob Dylan).
- What do you hope to accomplish with your atypical way of life?
As a visionary, I see a complete universe that I want to share with great artists and fans. It’s like a great puzzle. For each piece, I give the ideas and directions to professionals who can develop the story, the characters and their outfits, the visions of the future city to surprise and to bring astounding dreams directly to the audience. But we must dream with open eyes to make our dreams come true. That’s the reason I love stars. Not because they are famous, but because they are artists and like to share my visions.
- Why do you put Girl Power at the bottom of your digital series Kat Ladies?
For 6.000 years, at least, women always ruled the world. From queen of Sheba and Cleopatra to the business women of our XXIst century, they know exactly what they want. And how they’ll get it. Actually, in a sick world where men engage wars without mercy in the name of capitalism and liberalism, we wish the women to play a forefront role. They have given life, load each day the education of their children and will find the solution in our quest for a better world. In the digital series, the Kat Ladies don’t need any gun to fight. They use their brains and sometimes their fists and claws to impose their ideas. Women are the inspiration of my life.
- State your availability: Would you travel? Work full-time. Part time? Any hours?
When I decided to change my life, I imagined a full-time job, but didn’t realised how I would be working each day on any project, each minute, each second 24/24. Of course, I love what I do and can’t imagine resting during several days on a beach. Even when I am on a beach – I live in Marseille – I never stay a long time without writing or drawing. As a writer, I wrote all my first book in three months on the terraces of cafes on the seafront. My next book tells stories about life on the beaches. But in fact I also live in Paris, Cannes and Monaco where I will be March, the 2nd and 3rd for the 8th Book Fair.
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Text: Saif Rahman Sozib
Photo: Alain Zirah