James Gray, from Ukraine to New York

The American director presents on the Cannes Croisette Armageddon Time. A film with which he revisits his childhood. The opportunity to talk about his ancestors massacred by the Cossacks.

James Gray was on the plane during the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival. He did not hear Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech but he read extracts from it. The former actor turned president of Ukraine knows his classics. To evoke the destruction which his country undergoes, he quoted Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now: “I like to breathe in the smell of napalm in the early morning.” Gray discovered Francis Ford Coppola’s film in a basement cinema at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan in 1981. He never got over it.

“All war is a form of spectacle, explains the American filmmaker a few hours before the official screening ofArmageddon Timehis new feature film in competition. I was invited to a festival in 2019 for the 40e birthdayApocalypse Now. I love Francis and I participated in a debate with him. I asked him a silly question: “Do you think we learned the lessons of Vietnam?” He replied: “Of course not, look at Iraq.” I’m quite pessimistic…

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