Actress and music icon Charlotte Gainsbourg recently made her directorial debut with an impressionistic documentary about her mother, the famous acting star Jane Birkin. It wasn’t a professional decision but a personal one, according to Gainsbourg, who claimed that the entire project was an attempt to spend extended periods of time with her mother.
While talking about the origins of the documentary and the reasons for undertaking such a task, Gainsbourg mentioned: “I needed to get close to her, and I couldn’t without an excuse. So the excuse was to get a team together and ask her if I could film her. The idea was to be able to look at her really with the eye of a daughter.”
“I went straight to questions that were important to me but were, for her, very emotional,” Gainsbourg added. “I wanted to understand, why did I feel distance and shyness with [Birkin]? I think she felt it as an accusation, which was not the case. She was very used to talking in a professional way in front of the camera, defending her shows or films she’d done.”
Titled Jane by Charlotte, the documentary had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year and has already been announced as part of the line-up by the New York Film Festival. The distribution rights for Jane by Charlotte in the US has been purchased by Utopia, with a working theatrical release date of sometime in 2022.
“In France, a lot of the footage that happened in the ’70s, where my parents are together, everybody has seen,” Gainsbourg commented about the distance between the images on screen and the real memories. “Everybody has an image of her in those years. I didn’t want to have these beautiful but stereotyped images of her. I wanted her today.
“I didn’t care about what people knew of her or what they wanted to see of her. It was done in a very, very selfish way for my own pleasure.” She also admitted that she had fun while directing, “but I’m not sure I’d be able to do a thriller or any genre film. I have to fall in love with a story that would be very close to my own feelings.”