An interview with Richard Leacock, documentary cinema giant
I Hate Negatives!
by Reza Bahraminejad – Mohammad Baghebani
They said Richard Leacock would be in Tehran for the second edition of Cinema Verite Festival (October 14-18)…. No! He has canceled his trip … He has traveled a lot and is tired and old…. No! Leacock will come…. He has accepted the invitation…. Then we saw him on the second day of the festival when he was going up the theater steps quite deliberately like a rock covered with moss. His French wife, Valerie Lalonde watched his every step…. Please make way! This old man and old woman are embodiment of cinema history. Hand in hand, they had a very enthusiastic session and were admired a lot. Now we want more…. We want to talk to him…. To this legendary giant…. His wife tells us that we only have a quarter of an hour. He is easily tired. What could we ask in 15 minutes? Mr. Leacock, how did you make those big films? Where are your cinema wave friends? Mr. Leacock, please tell us the secret of your films….
It was a cloudy morning and he was sipping his tea at a hotel table having forgotten about our appointment. Of course, when interview started, he looked more energetic and talked for an hour. His 88-year-old mind was not as sharp as his prime years and his wife frequently helped him. In the final text, we had no choice, but to omit his sweet, but unrelated, memories. The interview, nonetheless, reveals a man in love who has never given up his obstinacy and opposition.
Film International: Every artistic field has its own heroes: painters take pride in Picasso and photographers admire Cartier-Bresson. We documentarians are happy to have somebody like you.
Richard Leacock (with a smile and proud tone): It’s a very good idea!
FI: And we feel honored to be here with you.
Leacock’s wife: He is delighted too.
FI: About half a century has passed since you and your friends founded this filmmaking style. Now looking back, do you believe that all those ideas were correct? If you restarted with the same colleagues, would you go the same way again?
RL: I am constantly changing and I am still changing. In every new film, I breach the rules of my previous film and each film is a different work for me. Digital technology has changed everything…. I hate negatives…. I spent many years as a young man at damned editing tables and we spent a lot of money on that. I love digital technology and we see how it has reduced production time. I don’t like wide screen. You cannot show close-up of a beautiful face on it.... But now…. (He points at our photographer’s camera).
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