Michel Leclerc – Le Nom des gens: “From now on, I know that we will read my scripts!”

Political comedy with Sara Forestier and Jacques Gamblin returns to Arte.

In February 2011, to wait until the Cesar 2011 ceremony, Premiere.fr looked back on the history of this ceremony with actors, actresses, directors or technicians who had the sesame. On the occasion of the rebroadcast of Name of people, at 9:05 p.m. on Arte, we republished our meeting with Michel leclerc, which was then in the running for the César for Best Original Screenplay, Best Film, Best Actress and Best Actor. He finally won that of the best screenplay with his accomplice Baya Kasmi, and Sara Forrestier left with the statuette of the best actress.
By Charlotte Sarrola

People’s name finally finds its strength in its unpredictability [critique]

You are nominated for the first time at the Cesar ceremony for your second feature film, Name of people. What do you think of the ceremony?

Like everyone else, I find it a bit disappointing. However, every year I watch it and have been since I was a teenager. In the end, it’s just a distribution of medals. But the most important. Now I have the impression that there is too much price: the price Louis Delluc, the critics’ prize, the Lumière prize, the thingee prize… All of this devalues ​​the Caesars, which have become a simulated reward. Especially since the prices often go back to the same films. Having said that, I am super happy to be named. Probably because it’s the first time. I feel… I feel like I’ve achieved something… like professional recognition.

Especially here, your film is nominated several times and in particular in the best film category.

That’s what I was telling you. Beyond the ceremony itself, for us, it’s like July 14th. It’s overwhelming, since I’ve been making films in different forms for a very long time (short films, series). And this is the first time that it works.

How did you find out that you were appointed?

A friend texted me saying “well done”. I had no idea what he was talking to me about. As I was not yet aware, he did not want to tell me more. Then the producer and Baya kasmi called me.

Did you expect it?

I was hoping that Sara Forestier would be named. I knew it was possible because his role stands out quite a bit. For the rest no. Besides, I was super happy that Jacques (Gamblin Editor’s note) is also named. Its role is set back from that of Sara and I always have the impression that we see less of the work of actors with more discreet roles. While the flamboyant characters are roles in Caesar.

Sara Forestier’s strong feminist message: “I was not quite an object woman, in fact”

The funny thing is that your first feature, I’m not inventing anything, has gone completely unnoticed, even though it operates on the same springs as Name of people (Marginal couple, sagacity of the main character…)…

The impact of a film ultimately depends a lot on the pipe in which it is initially put. I’m not inventing anything was a small film in terms of budget, distributed by a small distributor. Kad Merad was not yet in the spotlight like now. So when I proposed the couple Elsa Zylberstein-Kad Merad, the producers thought that it was not credible in particular because of Kad ; they found the couple not realistic enough! As they had already refused me the role of inventor that I wanted to play initially, they ended up accepting. Little distributed, with practically no promotion, there was no snowball effect as with Name of people.

Critics’ week in Cannes where Name of people was presented is one of those “tips” necessary for the film’s media success, right?

Completely. It gave my film better exposure. I’m not inventing anything, which like Name of people is a comedy, has never been shown as an auteur film. As a result, it was only distributed in multiplexes, and not in the art house network. Whereas, from the moment when Name of people was selected at the Week, we stuck this label on him “auteur film”. As a result, it was more widely distributed and viewed differently by the media… It was still a comedy, but it’s also an auteur film.

Finally … if your film is present at the César, it is thanks to the rant of Dany Boon, right?

Maybe, I’m not sure. One thing is certain: the jurors of the Academy love “success- surprise”, that is to say neither the boxes programmed as Little handkerchiefs nor films that are too little known.

The political side of the film also helped promote it.

Of course, but we didn’t really choose that. We knew that the film was about quite obsessive subjects and suddenly, people are obviously more interested.

I thought rather of the presence of Jospin…

Here again we did not think of it in terms of promotion. When we wrote it, we were more like two kids who challenge each other. Once he was in the movie, I realized that everyone was a bit excited. In fact, during criticism week, people came to ask him for autographs. As he is by definition the anti-bling policy, I think people find a new interest in him given the current situation. Moreover, he will be present at the Caesar ceremony.

Will it change anything for the rest of your career?

Yes. I’m in the middle of casting for my next film, Gaucho TV. The casting is progressing well. And that’s really the difference that I notice compared to the success of a film. Now I easily contact famous actors. When people don’t know your job, you row, you have to pass the agent filter. Now I know that we will read my scripts. Since the film has worked, it’s easier, there are even actors who call me… So, if I pick up the Caesar, you can imagine.

Michel Leclerc: “Jean-Pierre Bacri had declined a role that I had offered him”

The story of Name of people : Bahia Benmahmoud, an outgoing young woman, has a high idea of ​​political commitment since she does not hesitate to sleep with her enemies to convert them to her cause – which can make a lot of people since, basically, everyone the people of the right are his enemies. In general, she has good grades. Until the day when she meets Arthur Martin – like that of the kitchens – discreet forty-something, follower of zero risk. She said to herself that with a name like that, he was bound to be a bit fascinated. But the names are deceitful and the appearances deceptive …

Trailer :

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