Jessica Hausner is Austrian and funny as a prison door. But she is also a great filmmaker and her Club Zerothe story of students recruited by their sectarian teacher, is a concentrate of absurdity and darkness.
You are the director of Club Zerobut also the screenwriter of this story ofcontrol of a sectarian teacher over her students in an elite school. What is the origin of this film?
Jessica Hausner : The initial idea comes from the story The Pied Piper of Hamelin (German legend transcribed by the Brothers Grimm, Editor’s note), this character who kidnaps children with the sound of his flute, and who inflicts punishment on the adults of the town who did not want to pay him. I wanted to highlight a problem that I find important: how do we take our responsibilities for our children, do we have enough time to devote to them, do we give them enough attention? Do our societies really respect children?
The film is about a nutrition class but isn’t just about food?
No, but it’s also about food, which is a major element in showing how we live together and make society. It is also a way to talk about radicalization.
Club Zero also addresses themes such as religion, parenthood, etc.
Miss Novak’s character tries to invent a religion through her relationship with food, and as the film progresses, she talks more and more about religion, about saving children before the annihilation of the world, and even resurrection. I have always been passionate about religion and I show in this film that religion can always return to our societies through indirect means.
The final plan is The Lord’s Supperor as we say in English, The last Super ?
Absolutely, with a six-minute plan.
Is this a tribute to The Shining by Stanley Kubrick, because the characters enter the picture?
It’s true, it’s true, but I hadn’t thought about it. I like your theory. My characters are finally in their ideal world. Which is not mine, because I don’t believe in heaven!
Can we define your film as a depressive comedy?
Oh, that’s a strange qualification. But I can’t define my film…
The audience was laughing at this morning’s screening.
That’s what I wanted. I was looking for a mixture of tragedy and the absurd. My humor is a bit special, absurd. Because there is a certain form of absurdity specific to our existence: when we take a step back, many of the things we believe in and do seem ridiculous, absurd or futile. In my films, I always look for a distanced point of view to think about this question. Club Zero is told through this prism: the exaggeration which borders on the absurd offers an amused look at the dark themes of the film.
On a formal level, I thought a lot about Wes Anderson’s films.
Well next time you see him, ask him if he’s inspired by my films…
What is certain is that your style is very strong, and that you change it often, whether Little Joe or Crazy Love.
Over time, I developed a cinematic language with my cinematographer Martin Gschlacht and the costume designer, my sister, Tania Hausner. We’re trying to invent an alternate reality, a very stylized way of showing the world, with bright colors and quirky camera movements. The music of Markus Binder, drummer of a punk band, also adds to the originality of the whole. I question reality and I invite my viewers to do the same. We like to think that 1 + 1 makes 2. I believe that 1 + 1 can make 5 or even 7!
You have things in common with Michael Haneke…
(She cuts me off) No thanks.
Et Ulrich Seidl?
No ! We are all three Austrians but that’s it.
A word about your main actress, Mia Wasikowska?
I’ve been following her for years, I love her in the series An analysis. She is very elegant, very natural. She holds back a lot, she conceals, she’s a wonderful actress.
Club Zero de Jessica Hausner
In theaters September 27
By Marc Godin
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