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in Filmmaking
on Nov 12, 2007

Because it’s laid out at the bottom of the home page, you may have missed Rak Razam’s interview with French director Jan Kounen. Razam’s was a fascinating over-the-transom submission that explains what the talented Gallic director has been up to the last few years.

I first came across Kounen’s filmmaking many years ago when I saw his short Vibraboy. A friend and aesthetic colleague of directors like Gaspar Noe and Marc Caro, Kounen attracted international buzz with the film and then went on to make a hyperviolent and stylish crime movie, Dobermann, that starred Vincent Cassell and Monica Bellucci. The film was bought by Miramax back in the day, a remake was planned but then, typically, the movie sat on the shelf and was never released here in the States. Kounen then spent years on Blueberry, an adaptation of the graphic novel that starred Cassell, Juliette Lewis, Michael Madsen and Ernest Borgnine. The film, something of a psychedlic western, received a mixed reception — as Kounen says in the interview, the film’s marketing failed to prep viewers for the kind of film they would be seeing.

Much of Razam’s interview deals with Kounen’s role as a “ayahuasquero” — a user of ayahuasca, the psychoactive drink prescribed by shamans in South America and Mexico — and how this has affected his filmmaking. I remember hearing about Kounen’s trips to Peru in the late 90s and then, with his films not getting a release over here, kind of lost touch with his activities. So, I was happy to get Razam’s piece and learn that he made a new film, 99 Francs, which was released this fall in France, as well a documentary about his work with the South American shamans.

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