By RICA AREVALO
Accompanied by Martin Macalintal, audiovisual attaché of Embassy of France to the Philippines, we met French actor and director Nils Tavernier at the Film Studio of the University of the Philippines Film Institute last month for his master class.
He was in town to show his films L’Incroyable Histoire du Facteur Cheval (The Ideal Palace) and De Toutesnos Forces (The Finishers) in the country during the 24th French Film Festival.
Nils is the son of the celebrated French director Bertrand Tavernier who created A Sunday in the Country and Coup de Torchon.
His father is a respected film critic who championed legendary auteurs like Jean Renoir and Jean-Pierre Melville. He was also a press agent of JeanLuc Godard The 53-year old Nils has been working since he was 16 years old. He started in the camera department and accidentally landed an acting job. He went on to direct documentaries and feature films later.
Nils made his first acting debut when he was a teenager in a film directed by his father,Spoiled Children. He appeared in Claude Chabrol’s Story of Women and Milos Forman’s Valmont. As an actor, he was recognized in Beatrice and Revenge of the Musketeers.
In this sit-down interview with The Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, he opens up about his acting career.
What made him pursue acting? “I didn’t decide to be an actor,” explains the France Té- lévisions director.“I had a lot of offers as an actor when I was still a cameraman. People thought I had a pretty face. I was not afraid of the camera. I had a chance to make 40 films in 25 years.”
During the lecture, Nils stressed that an actor should be an exhibitionist. “If you don’t want to be seen, you cannot be an actor,” muses the Normandy-born artist. “All the actors who are famous and working, if you want to be deeply seen, you have to show something inside of you.”
We discussed his film, The Finishers, starring Fabien Héraud. The film is about a teen suffering from cerebral palsy who pushes his father to compete in the Ironman with him in tow. The search for the “person with disability” character took Nils five months to complete. “He was not an actor. I trained him to be an actor in four months,” he confesses. “We asked them to send pictures, shoot themselves, and make a presentation. His presentation was absolutely incredible!”
How did he work with a wheelchair-bound non-actor? “Like all the actors I worked with. The only difference is sometimes he would get tired. He cannot work all day like most other actors, I would say. He needs to have a rest,” says the 2008 Kids First! Best Award nominee. His favorite actor is Jacques Gamblin who plays the father.
Nils finds fulfillment in making documentaries. “I learn more about human beings. I have to go out of my area and documentaries bring me where I want in different areas of the world.” He signed up to make 11 documentaries for France Télévisions.
He wants to shoot next in Africa. “I want to make a film about an old person in France, dying alone, which is not the case here or in Africa,” says Nils.
It was Nils’s first time in the Philippines and in his short stay, he finds the Filipino audience “very involved and reactive.” Nils’ message to aspiring filmmakers: “Be sincere. “