Oscars 2014: Alexandre Gavras talks to Flix about the Oscar-nominated short film ‘Avant que de Tout Perdre’

As a member of a cinematic family that already counts three directors (Costa-Gavras, his son Romain and daughter Julie) and a producer (Costa’s wife Michèle Ray-Gavras), Costa’s other son Alexandre, has been combining different talents for years.

This year, the actor, director (he has already directed two short films, to date) and producer Alexandre Gavras is in the spotlight for his already decorated (among other distinctions, first prize at the Festival International du Court Métrage à Clermont-Ferrand) short film ‘Avant que de Tout Perdre’, which was directed by Xavier Legrand, and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film.

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Flix talked to Alexandre Gavras about his Oscar nomination, his cinematic upbringing and his thoughts on the present day situation in Greece.

How did you feel when you learned that the film was nominated for an Academy Award?

It was a great, exhilarating moment, of course. Most of all it’s a great recognition of the work that we accomplished, not only for us but also the actors and the crew that gave their time and their talent to work on a short film they believed in.

What does an Academy Award Nomination mean for you as a producer/filmmaker and for the film’s future?

From the moment you’re nominated, anything can happen. You’re in your short film universe, and the king of the world. After the ceremony if you don’t have it, you go back to oblivion. For the film the nomination means that you get a lot of attention from festivals, channels across the world want to buy the film, so it is good for business. It was Xavier’s first time directing and my first time as a producer. It  means that we’re very complementary as a team. On a personal level it means I have a good instinct to pick good scripts and help the director make them into good films. It gives me some self-confidence – but not too much, because this is a once or maybe twice in a lifetime event – and also credibility as a producer. As for the future? Ask me that question next year…

How would you describe the film to someone?

The film deals with a social issue (domestic violence) and it is treated as a thriller. Since domestic violence is hidden, we never see it, it happens off screen, it’s suggested therefore becomes all the more terrifying. The film puts the spectator in the same position as the main character of the film, in a permanent tension. It places  the viewer inside the very fear these women live with constantly.

You work as an actor, director and producer. How different are these “roles” for you?

They aren’t different for me. They are like rolls of the dice. The roles are different sides of the same object, but form a whole. What drives me really, is a gut feeling about films. It feels right to be involved in this or that way.

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You come from a legendary family of filmmakers.How did your father’s work, especially, affect you through the years?

I wasn’t affected by my father’s work, I was too young to understand it. I was more affected by our way of living. We didn’t go out on long walks, or picnics but mainly to the movies. Over the weekend we would go see 2-3 films or sometimes more. My mother is a producer, so we always talked about films at the dinner table. Also, my parents’ friend were very involved in politics, so I was more influenced by their long discussions around the dinner table then by my father’s films. In a way it gave me – a great approach to films. It helped me develop my sense of what makes a good film and how to produce it, finding a balance between the money that’s available to make a film and not sacrificing its quality. Also, the film world is made up of a lot of illusion and deception, so my background helps me stay grounded and clear-headed.

Do you feel “Greek” at all? What’s your view on today’s Greece and new Greek cinema?

I feel very very Greek. I go to Greece often and whenever I’m there it feels right and I feel like I belong there. It is a very resourceful place for me. As for Greece today… It is very painful. Greece invented democracy and today it shows us how democracy is perverted. How democracy is not meant “for the people by the people” but for “the financial world by the people”. Citizens across Europe should be more aware and concerned about what is happening in Greece because anyone could be next.

Among the film’s contributors, we find the Editor Yiorgos Lambrinos (son of director Fotos Lambrinos, who lives in Paris), who has worked with KG Productions for years. Lambrinos edited Costa-Gavra’s ‘Le Capital’ and is currently working on Panos H. Koutras’ ‘Xenia’.

Find more in the official Facebook page of the film.