Cannes Film Fest 2019: Frankie–Interview with Director Ira Sachs

Ira Sachs makes his Competition debut at the 2019 Cannes Film Fest with  Frankie, starring Isabelle Huppert in the title role as a terminally ill actress who gathers family and friends around her for one last vacation, among them characters played by Marisa Tomei, Brendan Gleeson and Greg Kinnear.

After Love Is Strange and Little Men, the quintessentially indie director moves the usual locale of his tales from Downtown New York to the picturesque landscape of Sintra in Portugal, while continuing to explore the recurring theme of everyday life.

Frankie Vs. Previous Films?
Ira Sachs:
Frankie is an exploration of intimacy and temporality, which have been ongoing interests of mine.  The structure of the film–the story takes place in a single day and nine different stories that interact– calls for a kind of  theatricality that’s different from my other films, which are grounded in a more direct, realistic fashion.

Isabelle Huppert.
: I have been a long-time admirer. She knows how to make small things big in a way that looks effortless. Isabelle also has a wonderful and deep sense of humor that was necessary in a film like this.  I have discovered a woman I did not know from watching her films, and that is part of what I wanted the audience to share in Frankie. She’s not only an amazing actress, she’s an amazing person, one of the people I have learnt the most from in my life.

First Time in Cannes?
IS: I got an email from a friend of mine, the Israeli actress Sarah Adler, and she reminded me that we were in Cannes together for the first time 20 years ago, watching the festivities, trying to meet people and trying to imagine what our future would be like but having no idea.  I feel very fortunate to be making the kind of films I wanted to make when I first came to the festival many years ago.


Making Personal Films
IS: You have to be inventive in terms of capital and you have to imagine value in a variety of ways. It’s very important to consider communal value, social value, familial value, all the things that are part of independent cinema, but I think globalization tends to mute those elements.  Film seems to be a commodity in a very large market– homogenizing. But as a filmmaker, I need to think mostly about the next story I want to tell, and how I can tell it. Most of my life I’m thinking about that and that’s been the pleasure of Frankie, and how we worked with producer Saïd Ben Saïd, my long-time writing partner Mauricio Zacharias, cinematographer Rui Poças and designer Silvia Grabowski.