Mathieu Kassovitz Starrer ‘The Astronaut’ bows in Cairo

Mathieu Kassovitz Starrer ‘The Astronaut’ bows in Cairo


The local audience at the Cairo Film Festival fell for Nicolas Giraud’s ‘The Astronaut’, which applauded several times during its world premiere on Saturday, even if the critics were less enthusiastic. But it wasn’t the only sound that accompanied the performance, often interrupted by a cacophony of ringing tones.

“What we shared here today was this unique experience of watching a movie together in a theater, an experience that we must protect because it is under threat all over the world. But what I would like to say to you, people of Egypt…”, began actor Hippolyte Girardot.

“…Turn off your phones at the cinema! God damn it!,” added Mathieu Kassovitz during a Q&A that followed, drawing hearty laughter from the room.


“The Astronaut”

The film – produced by Christophe Rossignon and Philip Boëffard (Nord-Ouest Films) with Orange Studio handling sales and Diaphana Distribution on board – is competing in Cairo’s international competition, where festival director Amir Ramses describes it as a “truly poetic story”. . ”

“It’s about a man who belongs to another universe: just like ‘The Big Blue’. I had the same tears [in my eyes] when I was watching this movie,’ he told the audience, referring to Luc Besson’s take on the 1988 rivalry between two freediving champions.

This time, however, Giraud looks up, not down.

It focuses on aeronautical engineer Jim (played by the helmer himself), who has dreamed of becoming an astronaut all his life. He can’t go on and despite his family’s reservations, he comes up with a rather surprising idea: he’s going to build his own rocket.

“I don’t know where this story comes from. Perhaps from the stars,’ said a clearly moved Giraud.

“If you want to achieve something, you have to stay true to your dream, whatever it is. Me? Before I came here I was a dental technician, I worked in a movie theater selling sweets and tearing tickets. Believe in yourself. That is the most important thing,” he told the audience.

“Making this movie was to me what building this rocket was to Jim. It felt exactly the same.”

Giraud wrote the characters of Girardot and Kassovitz with the actors already in mind, he said. Stéphane Cabel is credited as a co-writer.

“This one [evening] is magical for me because it’s the first time I’m sharing this film with them,” said Giraud. Hélène Vincent, Bruno Lochet and Ayumi Roux are also featured.

Kassovitz, cast as a veteran astronaut who helps Jim realize his ambitious – or insane – project, has also given a masterclass at the festival. In addition to appearing in films like “Amélie” and “Munich” – and would soon add “The Way of the Wind” by Terrence Malick to his resume – the actor has also had a career as a director, making waves with “La Haine” back. in 1995.

But he wouldn’t mind going into space either, even if the odds weren’t exactly in his favor. Just like in the movie.

“It’s my dream. That’s why I said yes to the movie,” he said.

In the past, Kassovitz also developed a project set on a space station, once called “MNP”.

“I spent ten years developing it and spending time with astronauts, like Jean-François Clervoy. I had the chance to meet him and I experienced great things with these guys. After a while, because the movie turned out to be very complicated, I decided not to do it. My experience with the astronauts was sufficient [for me].”

“But then the same producer came back and said, ‘Listen, I’ve got a boy who’s going to make the movie you wanted to make, do you want to be a part of it?’ My answer was, “Of course.” I’m proud of it.”


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