Director of The Man of My Life, Zabou Breitman

You’ve acted in many movies and you’ve directed and written quite a few. Which do you prefer—working in front of or behind the camera?
I like acting, but it’s more of a passion to direct.
What made you want to start directing?
I think the question should be “What made me start acting?” Both my parents are actors and my father is a script writer, but my first desires were drawing and writing and, of course, directing is good for that!
More than most other kinds of filmmakers, the works of French directors’ are very eclectic and visually stunning. Why do you think French filmmakers pay such close attention to visual elements?
I’m not sure that, visually, a lot of things are being done in France. Most films here are very…soft. Some people are now beginning to do a little more, but before, it was the stories themselves that were always more important.
Since you have experience as both a director and an actor, do you allow the actors you work with to run almost completely free when it comes to how they play the roles?
I direct them a lot! For the scene in The Man of My Life that’s shot at the break of dawn, we rehearsed for two week, just so it looks very natural. We shot it for five nights.
Where did you get the inspiration for The Man of My Life?
I don’t know. They’re different stories—I wanted to speak about the power of love, the power of falling in love. I wanted to show it in another way; to let it be something about choice.
A huge part of the show is the all-night conversation between Hugo and Frederick. What was your most life-changing all-night conversation?
I’ve had some discussion with a friend about my point of view about love. Of course it was different, because it wasn’t someone I was falling in love with. Lovers love speaking about love. It’s something magical.
Is this a sad or happy film to you?
Neither. I think I wanted it to be… “touching inside your belly.” Love always make you hurt inside the belly, in the centre of yourself. It’s like someone pushes a finger into your solar plexus. It does this to everyone with feelings and it’s a bit painful.
When you were making the film, did you already have in mind that Frederick and Hugo wouldn’t end up together?
Yes, I wanted it to be an open end.
What do you have planned next?
I’m directing a play here in France and acting in two television films. And I’m beginning to think of another movie, but it takes lots of energy. The most difficult thing ever is to write.