Two secrets that’ll make a great film about winemaking – 1. Be French. 2. Cast an actual winemaker as an actor. At least, that’s what French film director Cedric Klapisch did in his newest film, Ce qui nous lie, or Back to Burgundy in local theatres.
This most recent addition to his filmography is about three sibling winemakers who struggle to mend familial bonds while taking care of their vineyard that their deceased father leaves them. Actor-cum-Meursault winemaker Jean-Marc Roulot also plays the role of Marcel, an old loyal employee that imparts advice along the way. Drama embodies this film with several throat-cutting tense scenes, sprinkled with comedy and character growth.
At 56 years old, Klapisch has directed several films including The Spanish Apartment, Chinese Puzzle and Paris. During his first trip to Singapore as part of this year’s French Film Festival, The Peak sits down to talk with Klapisch about his secrets to a good film on winemaking.
True to the film’s name, filming took place in Burgundy over the course of a year.
“I wanted to show the relationship between how the grapes and vines grow up and how children grow up,” Klapisch explained.
He also jovially mentioned the perks of working with a team in an area that is one of the best places in the world for drinking: the winemakers who worked with the people on set would often offer wine, meaning everyone got to drink everyday – after filming had wrapped, of course.
What does Klapisch look out for in the filming of each scene? He confesses that does not know exactly, but to him, filmmaking is a collaborative process between the staff and him where they can both acknowledge whether the take is satisfactory.
Klapisch also revealed that he has resorted to inciting conflict between cast to invoke certain emotions during filming. He recalls getting actress Judith Godreche to shout at actor Romain Duris repeatedly, in order to get the latter to cry in The Spanish Apartment. Only when the take was over, did he bring Romain Duris “back to reality” so that there would be no hard feelings during work.
“What’s strange is, in terms of movie making, I know that I’m clearly a much better director than when I was 20 years old, but it doesn’t mean I will make better films. Because you can make a very good film, like Orson Welles made Citizen Kane when he was 25 years old. It’s probably his best film,” Klapisch says.
Klapisch shares that the film does hold a mirror up to the changing culture of traditionally-rooted French people. No longer are winemakers expected to live and die by the grapevine, never venturing outside the trellises of their vineyard. Instead, travelling is part of the modern society. To Klapisch, the new French culture is that land and roots may be in one place but you are allowed to explore new places and learn about different cultures.
What wine gets Klapisch going? One of the most expensive in the world: Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. He had the chance to try it in Burgundy when off the set. The vineyard, according to him, is as small as a football field but it is responsible for top quality wine. He also mentions how he was given only one glass to try but he hopes that as Back to Burgundy gains global popularity, he’ll be invited back for another glass.
Back to Burgundy will air in Singapore at Shaw Theatres from Nov 23 onwards.
Photo: Emmanuelle Jacobson-Roques