NEWS

The timelessness of human issues

There has been a barrage of Holocaust-based works recently: in the Nobel Prize given to Imre Kertesz, the Palme d’Or given to Polanski’s «Pianist.» Is this purely coincidental? There are many reasons for this. Every generation of creators, I believe, will pay a visit to this period, not because it is a Jewish problem but because it is a European problem. We are re-examining the history of Europe. Each generation of creators discovers something different. Polanski, for example, talks about the Warsaw ghetto, for the first time I think. My movie is about all those who knew and did nothing. Personally, what interests me is human behavior. Two people inside the system, a priest and an SS officer, resist. Whatever the age, resistance is a meaningful act. You reporters know it, we directors know it. We could, very easily, shoot other movies and get a lot of money for them… Another reason why we are still speaking about the Holocaust is because Jews all over the world are going through a dramatic period of major decisions. And some are harking back to that period to say, «See what happened,» or to excuse what is happening today. There is a wide sense of a methodical plan behind this barrage. I don’t think so. Creators simply are sensitized one way or another. What is happening today in Israel preoccupies all my Jewish friends. Some are living through personal crises. Sharon’s policies are unacceptable not only to us, but also to many Jews. That’s why some are focusing on World War II, in order to say, like Polanski, «Careful: What are we doing?» Without drawing analogies. It is, to say the least of it, simplistic to conflate Sharon with Hitler, because every age must be examined on the basis of its own history. Analogies are easy, they build dramatic tensions, but in the end they are negative because the truth gets lost. Many of the themes in your films – terrorism in «State of Siege,» the Palestinian question in «Hanna K.» – continue to be front-page issues. Are your films still topical, or is it simply that things haven’t changed? That’s a tricky question. The only thing I can say is that «Hanna K.» was shot seven to eight years before Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands. The only solution for two nations is to find a way to tolerate each other. When we said that in the movie, everybody was critical because then, you had to be on one side or the other. The same applies to Greeks and Turks. They have to tolerate each other. These are human issues; they have not changed since antiquity… Costa-Gavras’s movies The first movie made by Costa-Gavras, the film noir «The Sleeping Car Murders» (1966), differs from his later films: – Troops» (1967) – «Z» (1969) – «The Confession» (1970) – «State of Siege» (1973) – «Special Section» (1975) – «Womanlight» (1979) – «Missing» (1982) – «Hanna K.» (1983) – «Family Business» (1986) – «Betrayed» (1988) – «Music Box» (1989) – «Against Oblivion» (1991) – «The Little Apocalypse» (1993) – «A propos de Nice, la suite» (1995) – «Lumiere and Company» (1995)