Denys Arcand: no plans to retire from making movies
Director Denys Arcand is pictured in a Toronto hotel room as he promotes 'An Eye for Beauty' during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday , Sept. 11, 2014. (Chris Young/ THE CANADIAN PRESS)
By Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, September 13, 2014 9:06AM EDT
TORONTO -- Oscar-winning Montreal filmmaker Denys Arcand just can't bring himself to retire.
"My wife won't let me, and my daughter," the 73-year-old said with a hearty howl in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, where his French/English drama "An Eye for Beauty" screened.
"I have an 18-year-old daughter that I have to keep watch on, so instead of just staying at home doing nothing, I write scripts and eventually shoot them."
"An Eye for Beauty" -- starring Eric Bruneau as a renowned Quebec architect who cheats on his depressed wife (Melanie Thierry) with a Toronto colleague (Melanie Merkosky) -- comes seven years after Arcand's last feature, the Genie-nominated "Days of Darkness."
Arcand said back then he planned to make just one more film, using childhood memories as the theme, and then retire to a life of relaxation in Europe.
But several factors got in the way of those plans.
"I'm married to a producer who's a workaholic, so she works all the time, and my daughter needs tender loving care," he said. "So rather than just doing nothing, I'd rather shoot films. And it's available to me. It's possible for me to do it.
"So instead of travelling to Italy and spending my winters in Spain or something like that, I stay in crummy Montreal and shoot movies," he added jokingly.
Plus, he's "having fun," he said.
"Deep down, it's probably because I like it. Shooting this film, I felt exactly the same exhilaration as when I did my first film at 25 or something like that."
As for his plan to make a film reflecting on the past, he "worked on it" but it didn't pan out.
"In fact, at first I said to myself, 'I'm going to try and write a novel or a memoir, one or the other,' and I wrote about 100 pages and it was very boring," said Arcand, laughing again.
"If you want to work on your childhood, for it to be interesting you have to have, I think, a very miserable childhood. Most childhood stories that are interesting -- if you think of Dickens and all these terrible childhood stories -- it concerns people who were very unhappy in their childhood. Even (Ingmar) Bergman's famous 'Fanny and Alexander' is about a very unhappy childhood.
"I had the most happy childhood you can think of, so where do you go from there? What am I going to tell? It would be boring as hell," he added with another howl. "I had a very nice father, a very nice mother, I was in perfect health and I played hockey for my team, so there you go, end of childhood."
Still, "An Eye for Beauty" -- which features the gorgeous backdrop of Charlevoix, Que. -- does represent the environment Arcand grew up in.
The winner of a 2004 Oscar for best foreign language film for "The Barbarian Invasions" was born in Deschambault, Que., on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. His father piloted ships on the river, where the family lived until Arcand was 12, when they moved to Montreal.
"The landscapes you see in this new film are very close to what I'm familiar with, where I grew up," said Arcand. "And the presence of the river and the ships on the river and so on are very close to my childhood."
"An Eye for Beauty" debuted in May at the Cannes Film Festival, where Arcand has won several awards over the years.
The officer of the Order of Canada is now looking ahead to his next film, and he has an opening scene in mind.
"The other day I was just sitting in my office at home and I started to think about a scene, saying, 'OK, it's at night, it's in a diner and this guy is saying this to this girl,' and I actually wrote a scene which could be the first scene of a new movie that will come in two, three, four years, I don't know.
"But it's a scene, it's there, I wrote it. I didn't ask myself, 'Should I make a movie? or whatever. It just came naturally."
The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up Sunday.