Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne: “Cinema cannot change laws, but it can dismantle prejudices”

During the three decades in which they set their sights on those struggling to survive on the margins of European society, the Belgian brothers have not only achieved a privileged position. Among the most famous filmmakers in the world -She won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival On two occasions, no less, but they also made his surname synonymous with a creative method based on formal austerity, plot and careful management of narrative rhythm. with Tori and Lukita, Their twelfth feature film, use Heartbreaking photo of two sub-Saharan minors forced to survive in the criminal underworld of Liege To show how effective the method is.

Q: What prompted you to tell this story?

LD We had the idea ten years ago, when we read an article about a series of disturbing disappearances of unaccompanied foreign minors for which no one has been able to find an explanation. Such events are not permitted in democratic societies, where the law and protection of children prevail on paper. The problem is that the law dictates that upon reaching the age of eighteen an illegal immigrant must be expelled, and many of these children try to avoid this by going undercover. They are an easy target because if they die, no one will claim the body.

JP.D. Anyway, we wanted to address the problem by focusing on friendship between two sub-Saharan minors. We have read psychological reports that the suffering of these young people is greatly increased by the loneliness they experience in their host countries, and that friendship can be an essential survival mechanism.

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Q: Tori and Lukita is your fourth film that somehow addresses the issue of immigration. Why do they insist on that?

LD Because we don’t learn anything. Our representatives continue to view immigration as a problem, as something that must be prevented or stopped by law. But migrations will not and should not stop. The history of mankind is the history of migration, and no one can mention a single culture that is not a direct or indirect product of this type of human flow. Immigrants not only come to steal ourselves, but, on the contrary, enrich us. That is why laws should guarantee them more hospitality, more integration and more education.

P. In any case, the treatment that Europe gives to immigrants from Africa is very different from that received by those who came from Ukraine recently. What do you think that?

JP.D. Well, perhaps the difference in treatment reveals some racism, on the basis of which only Europe shows its solidarity with these white immigrants and Christians. However, it is undeniable that the European Union has lived up to the level of the Ukrainian people, and this is a good thing. I think it has helped European citizens establish the idea that the only thing allowed is to stand by those who are harassed and oppressed by tyrants. It would be very naive to think that we learned our lesson, but it is a first step. The next step is to stop shrugging our shoulders when we learn that 40 people have drowned at sea.

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P. Without a doubt, the rise of the far right on the continent will not make things easier in this sense …

LD I don’t want to stand on a moral point of view on which I can lecture, as typical left-wing intellectuals do, but I am a European citizen, and therefore alarmed by the growing popularity of hate speech. How do these slogans succeed in modern, prosperous and democratic societies? Of course, the interpretation is different for each country. But it seems clear to me that the extreme right has appropriated the symbols and strategies that belonged to communism. After all, he is trying to attract an electoral block by appealing to the kind of communal sentiment that once defined the labor movement. The terrible thing is that they are trying to create society through a common hatred of foreigners.

P. A question you will tire of answering: Can cinema fix something?

JP.D. Our film is for a French baker who went on hunger strike last year because his student, an 18-year-old Guinean boy, was about to be deported. Thanks to the citizen’s support he received, the boy was finally able to stay in France, and is now a respected and highly valued baker. It is important to make these types of stories known; So cinema is good. Our films are not capable of changing laws, but they are capable of dismantling prejudices.

Q: Many of your films star in children. Is it a coincidence?

LD Not. Look at the world through the eyes of a child. Perhaps because children are the weakest and are often forgotten, excluded or exploited. The child’s pain is unacceptable, from any point of view, as there are no nuances or ideologies of value.

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P. Cinema has created a school, and many young directors are making “Dardinian” films. Do you flatter them or tease them?

c. Dr It’s definitely cute. We are also influenced by the filmmakers we admire. The important thing, yes, is to use those effects as a springboard, and take them to their own terrain. A movie can’t be really good if it’s based on mere imitation, because then it has no soul.

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