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Philippe Godeau talks about his motivations for the release of 11.6

The Fan Carpet Chats To...
16 December 2013

At this year’s London Film Festival, The Fan Carpet had the opportunity to sit down in person with Philippe Godeau, the writer-director of the new French crime film 11.6.

Receiving its home entertainment release today courtesy of Studio Canal, 11.6 is based on the real life 2009 heist perpetrated by Toni Musulin, here played by veteran French actor François Cluzet.

Godeau spoke with us about his motivations for bringing his version of Musulin’s story to the screen, his use of film as an exploratory tool, the creation of something other than a crime film, his preference to merge fact and fiction, to his thoughts on the auteur theory and cinema as an art form of compromise and limitations.



What was your motivation for writing-directing 11.6?

For me, the idea was to discover how it was that this man (Toni Musulin) became a thief. The ambition was not to understand, but rather to physically feel it, and so for François Cluzet his task was to try to understand how he became a robber and how he did the heist. Now, because my motivation was to understand how he becomes what he becomes, and because the heist is central to the story, then 11.6 is maybe more of a social movie than a crime movie; in my imagination anyway.


You’ve spoken previously about discovering the truth through fiction. To understand reality, do you think it is an essential need to embrace creative licence through one’s imagination?

I spent a lot of time trying to understand, and I went with everything I’d heard. I did everything and I even went to Monaco where he went, but I like that mix and of course what you say is what I believe, but first you have to go find the reality.



François plays Toni Musulin as the silent type. Silence is a catalyst for mystery, and it draws you in as a spectator, arousing your curiosity. Do you think filmmakers and actors can learn from silent cinema?

Yes, but I don’t know if you have seen Le Samouraï, with Alain Delon? It does not have too much dialogue, and you know in France we speak too much [laughs]. I think it’s important to trust the audience. My first movie as a director was heavy on speech, and so I watched Le Samouraï again and it gave me the confidence and even the drive.


Cinema is a collaborative medium. What are your thoughts on the auteur theory in light of cinema being described as a collaborative medium where the director is author?

This is just a general reply. There are several types of cinema or film. The painter has a brush and they are alone, and then you get the more commercial type of Hollywood movies. I believe now today with the new technologies, if you compare an author in France to an author in the United States it is not the same, but fortunately or unfortunately today, an author can make their film.

Film in any case is really about compromise. It is like someone who writes a screenplay who must then learn to let go of an idea; to grieve over an idea that can’t be kept. Filmmaking is just full of limits, and you have to learn to live with these limits and constraints.