Bernard Michaux (Samsa Film)

Vicky Krieps period drama in “home stretch” for festival release

In 2022, Bernard Michaux looks forward to "Lightyear", the spin-off of the "Toy Story" saga from Pixar Studios. (Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne/archives)

In 2022, Bernard Michaux looks forward to "Lightyear", the spin-off of the "Toy Story" saga from Pixar Studios. (Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne/archives)

As 2022 gets underway, Bernard Michaux, producer at Samsa Film, takes a look back at the best films he has seen on the big and small screens over the past 12 months.

What is your favourite film of 2021?

Recently, I saw Adam McKay's Don't Look Up (released on December 24 on Netflix, editor’s note) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. I liked it, it’s very effective.

But I would still choose Titane, by French director Julia Ducournau (the Palme d'Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, editor's note)... even though everyone hates this film. I admit that it is a rather divisive work. You either like it or you don’t. It worked well for me. I was in it from beginning to end. But I can understand that many people have a bit of trouble. From the opening scene where a woman has sex with a car, the director must have lost some viewers... It’s the kind of production where you have to be ready to see the film.

What is your favourite series of 2021?

That’s more complicated. Because I have seen less series this year, due to lack of time. But also because I didn’t really fall in love with any of them. So I would say maybe season 3 of Sex Education’ which is on Netflix. It’s a bit special to go for a third season like that, but nothing new really jumped out at me.

That being said, it is also true that I am content with what is available on legal platforms: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, etc. I don’t go for illegal content. I confess I wouldn't even know how to do that. So, a series like Succession, offered by HBO, slipped through my fingers, even though, from what I’ve heard, I would have liked it.

We’re in the home stretch, and I hope we can show Corsage at a big festival.
Bernard Michaux

Bernard MichauxProducerSamsa Film

What is your favourite Luxembourgish (co)production of 2021?

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Paul Thiltges Distributions), a Romanian film. A cinema I know well by now, since I produced Collective by Alexander Nanau. It was, I think, the first film I saw where people really wore masks and where the pandemic that is currently affecting us was not hidden.

Like many people, I discovered Romanian cinema with the Palme d’Or awarded to Cristian Mungiu in Cannes in 2007 for the film 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days. After seeing it on the Croisette, I was convinced that he was the one to win that year.

Afterwards, I was able to meet Cristian Mungiu a few times in Bucharest, as he is a friend of Alexander Nanau. And to discover more in depth this Romanian cinema which is very well represented today. How do you explain its current good health? Even if it is not something set up by the state, I don’t think it is due to chance. It never is when several people from the same place have a story to tell at the same time. As we have already seen in other countries where there have been similar waves of good films.

A stand-out performance by an actor/actress in 2021?

I am a member of the jury of the Berlinale Shooting Stars, awards given each year on the fringes of the Berlin festival to young European actors and actresses. A programme organised by European Film Promotion. In the 2022 edition, I was able to see Between the Waves by director Anaïs Volpé, a film in which the duo of Frenchwoman Déborah Lukumuena (César for Best Supporting Actress in 2017 for the film Divines, editor’s note) and Swisswoman Souheila Yacoub made a strong impression.

A cinematic expectation for 2022?

Lightyear, the spin-off of Pixar Studio’s Toy Story saga, which tells the story of the origins of the character Buzz Lightyear. I grew up with Toy Story. The first episode of this quartet was released in 1995. I was 12 years old. It was the first one to be in 3D, and it really made an impression on me. I can’t wait to see what they do with the Buzz character.

On a more personal note, 2022 will also see Vicky Krieps play Elisabeth of Wittelsbach, Empress of Austria, better known as Sissi. Corsage is a film by Austrian director Marie Kreutzer, which we are co-producing with Samsa Film (including Kazak Productions, the production company of Titane). And it was partly shot here. It has a budget of around €7m, to which the Film Fund Luxembourg contributed €1.5m.

This film is a portrait of Sissi on the eve of her 40th birthday, a moment in her life when she is considered an old woman by the society around her but also by herself. So it's a film about a woman and the way she lives with her image. It’s very modern, far from the productions of the 1950s where Romy Schneider shone, or even the new German version released in 2021 where the role of Sissi is played by Dominique Devenport.

When is the release scheduled?

It's not decided yet. We still have to discuss it with the distributor for the Benelux and Germany. International sales will be handled by the French MK2. We are in the home stretch, and I hope we can show it at a big festival.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.