Workshop with Michaël R. Roskam

Michaël R. Roskam, guest of the 11th Küstendorf, held a workshop today after the screening of his third feature film Racer and the Jailbird.

Oscar and César nominee with his first feature Bullhead, Roskam made his second feature The Drop in Hollywood, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini. Racer and the Jailbird is his comeback to Europe and a renewed cooperation with actor Matthias Schoenaerts. The director shared his experience with working in Hollywood and described the difference between American and European filmmaking saying that in Europe, film belongs to the one who gets the money, and in America it belongs to those who provide the money. In his opinion, both options have their upsides, adding that he plans to continue working in both systems – since he is returning to Hollywood with his next project.

Genre determined, or rather prone to flirting with genre, Roskam described his work as amour noir, which he defines as twisting the conventions of traditional noir film. Instead of a crime story with love elements as its satellites, amour noir would be a love story with elements of crime as satellites, says the director. He cites role models such as Jean-Pierre Melville and Michael Mann as the greatest influence on his films and adds that Mann’s film Heat was a direct inspiration for Racer and the Jailbird.

Answering questions posed by students, the Belgian director shared his view of the importance of crime stories for culture. Citing the Dutch anthropologist and historian Johan Huizinga and his concept of homo ludens, Roskam compared film with play which invokes, imitates and recreates basic conflicts within human nature, clearly aware that it is about pretending. The difference between reality and play is that play has an end and has no consequences. Since violence is inseparable from human beings and even civilization could not eradicate it, Roskam believes it is crucial to talk about it and to recreate it as part of play. In his opinion, film noir and similar types of stories offer just the play and benefit society likewise.