«VAleria Bruni Tedeschi a little talk, a little panting. And the telephone line holds up a bit, goes a bit. “I’m running,” he explains. «Jogging and interview, two things at the same time. Exactly the opposite of that conscious presence that my beloved advises Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist master who passed away in January. I’m really far from the wisdom that I set as a goal (laughs)!».

    A legendary school

    At work, however, the lesson has already learned: for Forever Young, in our cinemas since December 1st, has remained only behind the camera. It is the director’s first film – after It’s easier for a camel..., Actresses, A castle in Italy, The vacationers – in which he also does not appear as the protagonist. But the story, as in the previous cases, remains (in part) autobiographical: this time it retraces – without discounts – the experience of the mid-80s at the legendary theater school of Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Romans, Les Amandiers in Nanterre. Including love with a tragic ending with another classmate (Thierry Ravel, who died of an overdose), who is played by his current partner, Sofiane Bennacer, accused of violence (“lnctually he is the victim of a media lynching” she says confidently) .

    Why is it so important for you to start from experience?
    I don’t decide, it comes to me like this: I rework personal material, I “steal” from the stories of others and – together with Noémie Lvovsky and Agnès de Sacy (the co-screenwriters, ed) – I make it fiction. Even when I made a TV movie, an adaptation of the Three sisters of Chekhov, I looked for a key in my experiences: I imagined that there was a family secret, a theme I know and on which I have worked It’s easier for a camel... (the fact that her sister Carla is not the daughter of Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, ed).

    Eros & Thanatos

    His father in Camelhis brother Virginio in A castle in Italyher boyfriend in Forever Young… For Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, are films a way to “hold back” ghosts?
    Cinema allows us to summon people who are no longer there, to offer them the floor, to converse again: it’s one of the reasons that drives me to film. Do not lose communication, neither with the living nor with the dead.

    “I was twenty, I won’t allow anyone to say that it’s the most beautiful age in life” claimed Paul Nizan. Do you agree?
    It’s not the most pleasant, true, but it’s deep, powerful, courageous. Vibrant. My twenties were marked by the presence of death in everyday life, between drugs and AIDS: I tried to represent this duality, Eros and Thanatos. There was a loving impulse towards the world: we felt, albeit in a confused way, that our destinies were at stake.

    Valeria Bruni Tedeschi director with Nadia Tereszkiewicz and Sofiane Bennacer on the set of “Forever Young”.

    “Children give meaning to life”

    Any regrets about those times?
    I have two children (Oumy, 14, adopted with Louis Garrel, and Noè, 8, adopted when single, ed) that give meaning to my life, and therefore no: I prefer today.

    What remains of the girl he dated Les Amandiers?
    If there were no mirrors, I would not perceive any difference (laughs)! My quest has always been the same: the truth. Have the courage to be myself with truth. I try to maintain a certain candor, sometimes I look stupid and that’s fine with me: I want to be amazed and – even if – a little bit stupid. I hate having preconceptions, arriving already knowing: I’m interested in not knowing and letting myself be invaded by events. Like, precisely, the boys of Forever Young.

    The relationship depicted in the film is sort of fou love. He still feels like approaching the fire.
    I think I can still take risks for love, yeah The word fire is beautiful: if it hadn’t already been the title of a masterpiece (the autobiography of Marina Tsvetaeva, ed), I would have chosen exactly Vivre dans le feu, Living in fire.

    In the entrance exam scene everyone is asked why they aspire to be actors. What was his response?
    I don’t remember exactly, but what the protagonist gives resonates with me: I felt that I was wasting my youth. I studied literature at university, I wrote poetry, I devoted myself to classical dance although I was aware that I started too late for professionalism… It was a long search, I’m not one who dreamed of acting since I was a child. I felt alone and I had the idea, to keep in touch with the texts but meeting peers, to enroll in a theater course. And after a while I arrived at Les Amandiers.

    “Obstacles strengthen desire”

    Valeria Bruni Tedeschi with Sofiane Bennacer in Cannes (photo Getty).

    The butler of the protagonist of Forever Young warns her: actresses risk going crazy and dying sad and alone.
    In reality they were the words of my French teacher at the university, she hoped that I would continue with the academic path. The sentence really struck me.

    And didn’t he block it, “sabotage” it?
    No, on the contrary: obstacles strengthen desire, as in love. My parents would never have held me back, they were artists – my father a composer, my mother a pianist: they were fine with me choosing the profession of actress.

    “The Art of Joy”

    A scene from “Forever Young”, directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.

    Today he is also a director: a soul divided in two?
    I like feeling like an actress directing films: I find my identity and my career as an actress. Then, however, the meaning of “acting” changes according to the phases. There were times when I no longer wanted to continue. Now, however, it represents pure fun, like going to a dance. I’m on the set of The art of joya series directed by my friend Valeria (Valeria Golino, who based it on the novel by Goliarda Sapienza, ed): I play a bad, crazy grandmother, a wonderful character! It’s basically my party, I haven’t had as much fun since filming The nurse by Marco Bellocchio. In life I don’t enjoy myself, except when I’m with my children.

    For what reason? It will be asked.
    I have a very strong superego which prevents me from doing this (laughs). I often feel guilty if I enjoy it, believing that I should concentrate on something more important and more serious. When I work I enjoy it, when I’m not working I’m… at work.

    Valeria Bruni Tedeschi: the superego

    Valeria Bruni Tedeschi with Sofiane Bennacer in Cannes (Ansa).

    Didn’t analysis help you unlock the tyrant superego?
    No, perhaps it will never unlock: psychoanalysis does not serve to change, it serves to “function” as one is. I’d settle for putting up with myself a little more. It’s not like at my age I have much hope of being able to straighten my crooked things. Like someone with crooked teeth: difficult as adults to see them straight again (laughs)! The same goes for neuroses: what I could do, I did. I can aspire to the maximum to become wise.

    Here’s what brought her to Thich Nhat Hanh.
    Yes, I love him, I truly find him a genius. I don’t practice meditation, even though he insists it’s essential: I can’t. Working for me is the closest thing to mindfulness, or repeating a piece when I play the piano. But I underline all his essays with the highlighter, with the good will of the good girl in school. I just need to read his advice to calm down, it reassures me to have his texts on my bedside table. Sometimes I’m there between a few pages of Thich Nhat Hanh and an anti-anxiety reliever. He doesn’t always win the anxiolytic. Some evenings I put one of his books under my pillow: meditation permeates me in some way (laughs).

    The tourbillons of the life

    Valeria Bruni Tedeschi in Cannes with Sofiane Bennacer and Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Ansa).

    It looks like a scene from one of his films… Now that it’s at five, now that Filippo Timi defines it as “the missing link between Woody Allen and Nanni Moretti”, now that they even dedicate essays to his cinema – The tourbillons of the life by Benedetta Pallavidino, published by Bietti – will finally feel “adequate”.
    I don’t ask the question. At most I ask myself: what am I doing today, what am I going to do tomorrow? I’m never in the past, the past gives me no legitimacy. At the limit, I feel like the sailor who has lived through so many storms and who, when another one comes to him, isn’t so frightened: he recognizes the storm, the fear, the emptiness and knows that, for better or worse, he will get out of it. Impostor Syndrome? I find that there is nothing wrong with feeling like an imposter: it’s something interesting, leaves you hanging and keeps you from being arrogant. Oh God, maybe while I’m talking about not being arrogant is when I am…

    Complicated… Years ago her mother told us: Carla is naturally inclined to happiness, Valeria to torment.
    (laughs heartily) It’s not that I cultivate torments, but I think they are part of life and I don’t escape them, I don’t put a lid on them. With this sentence my mother sticks a label on me and I have to be careful not to let myself be influenced: I too want happiness. Or maybe not: not happiness, which actually scares me, the thought that it can vanish in an instant distresses me. The happiest moments of my life are not those of happiness, they are those of serenity. I’m counting on now Thich Nhat Hanh (laughs).