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The 21st FICM Screened Krzysztof Kieslowski's Classic Film THREE COLORS: RED

Omar Sosa Topete

During the 21st Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), the classic film Three Colors: Red (1994, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski) was screened. The film was introduced by Jean-Christophe Berjon, actor and theater director.

At the end of the screening, actress Irène Jacob, who stars in the film, arrived to answer questions from the audience: "Acting with Valentine had a lot to do with wondering why this girl returns to the house of the judge who is so nasty to her," said Jacob about the point of view from which she developed her character. For her that act, going back, is what the whole film is about because it is where sisterhood, the central theme of the film, is demonstrated.

Irène Jacob, Jean-Christophe Berjon
Irène Jacob, Jean-Christophe Berjon

"The challenge in this film was not to be limited to a simple love story, but to show how two people, two beings, who meet and detest each other, at a certain moment can reach this fraternity" said the actress, who then made a comparison between the roles she played for Kieslowski's films. In The Double Life of Veronique (1991) she spent many scenes alone, the connection she generated was between her, Véronique and Weronika; while in Three Colors: Red she developed a duo between Valentine and the judge.

"For me in this film there are a lot of cinemas and a lot of love towards cinema" she answered in response to the question: What is cinema for you? "If you notice, the handling of light reflects the feelings of the characters. A face that goes from light to shadow, that's cinema," said Jacob, alluding to the importance of the work of Piotr Sobocinski, the film's director of photography.

Highlighting the cinematography work, he said, "He (Sobocinski), if you noticed, is quoted once again among the writers because he is considered to have done the writing of the images and he gave a lot of ideas for the film. He was 35 years old and wanted to really explore his talents in this film.

Piotr Sobocinski's participation was so important that, from Jacob's point of view, the rules governing Three Colors: Red are shown to the audience from the beginning: "Piotr decides that the first shot of the film is to take a crane and somehow enter this woman's apartment, so that's already an intrusion," added Jacob, referring to one of the film's thematic lines.

Regarding what it was like to work with Krzysztof Kieslowski, Irène Jacob said several things. "For me, it was a very beautiful encounter. He was always, of course, very involved in the film, he was there, he saw what was happening, he reflected, he saw how someone crossed his legs, but above all, he had a very attentive eye and this is what made things happen and when he liked something he said: Oh!"

Irène Jacob
Irène Jacob

The smallest details were something that mattered to Kieslowski. "One thing I can tell you is that he used the camera as a microscope. He used to make documentaries and at a certain point he decided to give it up because what he was interested in was filming the interior of the characters," added the actress regarding her experience with the director.

"You have to know that Krzysztof Kieslowski deals a lot with montage, he used to say that he adored the writing of the montage. We always did few takes, but he filmed many different angles," added Jacob. For the actress, Krzysztof's work was both admirable and exhausting, because while he was shooting Red he was editing Three Colors: Blue (1993), "He said that this allowed him to maintain a certain distance, but the reality is that he did get very tired during these shoots."

Irène Jacob commented that Kieslowski was not someone who stopped to talk to her about the character. One of the rules Kieslowski imposed was not to act pretentiously. "You know, Irène, one day you're the one who's fine, another day Jean-Louis is the one who's fine, sometimes both are fine, other days neither of us is fine," the actress added humorously.

"You have to know that Krzysztof was someone who worked 100% on the set," Jacob pointed out, so when he told her that just seeing 30% of what he dreamed about the film already on the set was enough to satisfy him, it was shocking. "Then I understood that even if we give 100% there are times when we are human, sometimes we work a little less well, sometimes we are less inspired. It is true that if in a film there is a 30% that is received very strongly, it is already super good," added Jacob.

Regarding her work and trajectory as an actress, she said: "I think you have to dare to find your own voice because we are all unique and you have to have faith in that". For her to look for her style and not emulate those she admired was key.

"You also have to always keep in mind a certain degree of freedom: freedom to see the characters in a certain way, or to choose this project instead of that one," said the actress about the flexibility she allows herself to act.

To conclude, to the applause of the entire room, Irène Jacob said, "Fortunately, it's a profession that we don't do alone. One certain thing is that when you are a young actor or actress you have to get close to all those with whom you like to work so that you can work together. It is a craft that is done as a team."