La Presse at the 74th Berlinale | Martin Scorsese, king of the Berlinale

(Berlin) Martin Scorsese left the press conference room, two meters from me, and I realized how moved I had been by his words. However, it was not the first time that I saw the filmmaker of Mean Streets and of The Wolf of Wall Street. Nevertheless, Scorsese speaks about cinema with such passion, such eloquence, that I left the Hyatt hotel on Potsdamer Platz moved and surprised to be so.

Well, it is a fact that I consider Martin Scorsese to be the greatest living filmmaker and I have seen all his films, even his student short films. I own a t-shirt with his name in the same font as the German pop metal band Scorpions. I assure you, I did not wear it (it was too tight). I preferred the one on which it says Ozu, one of his favorite filmmakers, in Ozzy’s font…

I’m not the only one who reveres Scorsese. Journalists waited in line for two hours to secure a place at the press conference. There was no such crush for anyone else at the Berlinale, and the audience was of course won over in advance.


American director Martin Scorsese receives the honorary Golden Bear from Mariette Rissenbeek, executive director of the Berlinale

The most cinephile of American filmmakers received an honorary Golden Bear for his entire career on Tuesday evening at the Berlinale Palast, on the sidelines of the presentation of The Departed (2006). He must present this Wednesday at the Berlinale Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburgera documentary in which he is the narrator on the work of filmmakers from Red Shoes (1948), a brilliant avant-garde musical tragicomedy.

Scorsese did not speak at a press conference about his favorite film, but about his work in film conservation (for the World Cinema Project), inspired by the group of Young Turks that he formed in the early 1970s with his friends Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg and Paul Schrader.

We were looking for good quality copies of old films which were almost impossible to find. There was a mystique associated with it. A magic in discovering something new in the art of cinema, whether it is a John Ford or a Satyajit Ray.

Martin Scorsese

His eyes sparkle when he talks about the discovery of “new voices” in his journey as a film buff – Shirley Clarke, John Cassavetes, René Clair, Marcel Carné – and how they opened his eyes to the world. He cites the example of the film The river by Jean Renoir, whom he saw in his youth. “I later realized that the characters in Pather Panchali [de Satyajit Ray] were extras in European films shot in India. You see what I mean ? »

Martin Scorsese grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in a modest environment that was not intellectual. There were no books at his parents’ house, to whom he dedicated a wonderful medium-length documentary in 1974, Italianamerican (her mother, Catherine, also had a small role in Goodfellas). It was built, he recalls, by discovering European cinema, in particular Italian neorealism (the subject of his equally marvelous 1999 documentary, My Voyage to Italy).

“Maybe young people elsewhere in the world will see films and be inspired like I was, even if they don’t become filmmakers,” says Scorsese, who discovered international cinema, notably Kurosawa and by Mizoguchi, thanks to film versions dubbed into English and broadcast on American TV with commercial breaks.

” Time flies ”

Among the recent films that have had an impact on him, he cites Past Lives by Canadian-Korean Céline Song (presented in competition in Berlin last year) and Perfect Days, by Wim Wenders, which has just been released in Quebec. “I’m 81 years old and time flies,” he said. I no longer have the leisure to choose films at random. I try to see new films as often as possible, but I don’t have enough time. »

He is wary of fashion effects. “The films that we remember after 20 or 30 years are the ones that say something about human nature. » To the recurring question of the predicted death of cinema, he answers that we should not be afraid of technologies. “Cinema is not dying, but transforming. What matters is having your own voice. She can express herself on TikTok as in a four-hour film or a two-hour miniseries,” says the man who enjoys shooting videos on TikTok with his daughter Francesca.

The questions were not all that specific. Scorsese was very patient with a young Bulgarian who insisted on delivering a line from Jack Nicholson in The Departed, with his Eastern European accent. I wondered if he wasn’t some sort of Borat or cousin ofInfoman in Sofia. “What were the best 30 seconds of your life? », asked a journalist. “You mean at the cinema?” » replied the octogenarian, with a smirk.

A Greek journalist pointed out to him that he used to talk about the cinema of others, about the one who inspired him, but rarely about his films and his own influence on other generations of filmmakers. “I don’t think about it in those terms,” he said. When I was young, I had an ego and ambition. I still have ambition, but I try to put ego aside. »

At the time he presented out of competition Raging Bull (1980) at the Berlinale, Scorsese was at the lowest point of his career. New York, New York (1977), a resounding critical and commercial failure, plunged the director into depression and cocaine consumption. Scorsese was rushed to hospital due to intestinal bleeding. He weighed less than 110 pounds and almost died.

It was his old friend Robert De Niro, visiting him in the hospital, who convinced him to make a film about the life of boxer Jake La Motta.

I put everything in Raging Bull after having done Taxi Driver, New York, New York And The Last Waltz. When I did The King of Comedy, I understood that I was free to start all over again, to reset the counters to zero, to find new ways of telling stories. This has happened several times in my life. Freeing yourself from constraints is great.

Martin Scorsese

Thanks to the excellent Killers of the Flower Moon, he will be a candidate for the tenth time, on March 10, for the Oscar for best director. An award he won only for The Departed, yet far from being his best film. Scorsese will play a role in the next feature film by American Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls) and is working on a draft screenplay inspired by the life of Jesus, about which he spoke a few times to none other than Pope Francis himself.

“I try to find new ways of thinking about the essence of Catholicism,” says the filmmaker of The Last Temptation of Christ and of Silence. “I would like it to be unique, different, thought-provoking and still entertaining. »

Whatever happens, he assures, Scorsese intends to perpetuate the tradition of always putting the song Gimme Shelter of the Rolling Stones in the soundtrack of his films. “Mick Jagger told me, I couldn’t believe it, that Shine A Light [son documentaire sur la tournée A Bigger Bang des Stones] was my only film without Gimme Shelter. I was given anesthesia recently for dental surgery and the dentist was listening Gimme Shelter. I can’t escape it! »

It’s funny, in addition to being fascinating and inspiring. “I know very well that we are all heading towards death, towards the sun, the moon, I don’t know what. But in the meantime, while we’re at it, let’s communicate. Let’s communicate through art. » One day, the king will no longer be there. Maybe that’s what upset me so much when he left the room.

Accommodation costs were paid by the Berlinale and Telefilm Canada.

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