MATHIEU AMALRIC

Born in the Parisian western suburbs, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Mathieu Amalric has already acted in the past three decades (in addition to short films and TV-series) nearing a hundred feature films. The scale of his acting stretches from the alter ego role of his “finder” Arnaud Desplechin, who visited our festival in 2019, to roles in films such as Steven Spielberg’s Munich, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, or an appearance in the Bond spectacle Quantum of Solace (2008). “I can’t tell them [my sons] one day that I refused to be the villain in a Bond movie”…

His stardom as an actor has overshadowed the fact that Amalric, having been part of film productions since he was seventeen years old, considers himself first and foremost a director as we experience fully at Midnight Sun Film Festival. Highly productive, this man’s career as a director starting in 1997 already includes six feature films, three documentaries, a number of feature-length TV films, at least eight short films, music videos and other productions…

The term “star” undesired by the actor himself is perhaps a misnomer about such an original and ambitious, dare I say such a cult actor like Amalric. He has achieved acting praise in numerous arthouse films from directors like Otar Ioseliani, Olivier Assayas and Nanni Moretti – all the aforementioned past guests at MSFF. Not to mention the film screened at this year’s festival; in which Amalric plays a paralysed man communicating solely with the blinking of his eyes – Julian Schnabel’s film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. One can only imagine how big of a challenge this static role has been for such a physical type of actor like Amalric.

As a director Amalric is as free spirited and versatile in his ambitions: A couple of his first feature films received positive responses in France yet have not been as recognised abroad. Instead, his third feature film about a burlesque group On Tour in 2010 was a breakthrough. The film was awarded in Cannes for best directing and nominated for César in seven categories including best director and film. The crime thriller The Blue Room (based on Georges Simenon’s novel), the unique singer biography Barbara as well as Hold Me Tight, a road movie about a family, prove that Amalric continues his uncompromising path. In his latest work of fiction, he succeeds in bringing together acting, cinematography, set design and soundtrack in a way that is as much music as poetry, far away from theatre or literature…

Even though you can most certainly talk about profound topics like football with Amalric (I won’t reveal the favoured team) in Sodankylä, at the festival we will devote time also to one of his passions, a completely self-motivated documentary project about the jazz titan John Zorn. This over a decade-long passion has already produced three feature films. The latest one – screened at our festival – also features Amalric’s partner, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan.

Timo Malmi