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Jim Jarmusch at Thessaloniki – movieScope

Jim Jarmusch at Thessaloniki

Following last night’s successful screening of his latest film Only Lovers Left Alive, which met with rapturous applause at the opening night of the 54th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Jim Jarmusch held a packed press conference today.

When asked why he made a vampire movie he said that there have been hundreds of different vampire films, but his was not a horror film, citing The Hunger and Let The Right One In as examples in a similar vein to his.

Answering a question about getting the film financed, he said it was difficult to get any films financed now, and had praise for the new wave of Greek filmmakers that were coming up. He added that there were gardens of new filmmakers growing around the world.

He said, “There has always been mainstream and marginal culture and most of the innovations come from the margins, although not always. And I’m definitely in the margins somewhere. I don’t see myself in the mainstream.”

The question of the choices of music in his latest film was asked and whether it was influenced by the new psychedelic movement. Jarmusch replied that he liked lots of different music and that music was his favourite. “The strongest thing that humans give as expression is music.” He said he didn’t know how to define the new psychedelic movement, but there are many bands that he likes that are described that way. He added that making a film takes about two years, but music is very immediate. He said the original music was by a Dutch lutist called Josef van Wissem, as well as Jarmusch’s own band Sqürl, with all the guitar music played by Jarmusch.

Speaking about independent cinema he said that the term has become a marketing tool and that he doesn’t really know what it means now. He said that he thinks that low budget features could be the future. Drawing a comparison with music, he said that the arts move in cycles and spoke about the rise of the punk movement as a reaction to the commercial stadium rock, and how the music was reduced down to its essence without the worries of being a “professional”. He said that similarly, cinema needs to have everything stripped away and he would rather see a low-budget Greek film than a lavish Hollywood movie. “Cinema needs to be reduced to its essential poetry.”

Talking about his choices of locations (Detroit and Tangiers) he said he didn’t feel comfortable explaining them and they were appropriate places to help define the characters. He added that the film wasn’t really a vampire film but a character study and a love story. “It’s important that they are vampires because it allows them to have an overview of history over hundreds of years, which is part of the story as well.” He said that he loved the two locations and that maybe the film was a way of being able to spend time there.

Jarmusch also spoke at length about historical characters that are mentioned in his films such as William Blake in Dead Man and Nikola Tesla in this new one. He said that his intention was to raise awareness of these great people in the hope that it would inspire people that saw his films would go and find out more about them. Jarmusch spoke at length about Tesla and what a person of great vision he was, whose ideas of world peace and free energy were discredited and destroyed by corrupt and greedy corporations.

On the question of working on television he said that he would possibly be interested, but he was worried that being very independent and always having the choice of who he works with, together with complete creative control, he said he wasn’t interested in doing something where someone was telling him how to make it. He added that TV is now a way to make things that are very cinematic, and are now harder to do in cinema. He said he doesn’t watch any series now because he doesn’t like to become addicted, because he has so little time to make music and write and make movies and be with his friends. He added that he’s a real film nerd so he needs to see a lot of films.

Only Lovers Left Alive played to another full house at the festival this evening. The film will go on general UK release in February 2014.

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