“I don’t think you should apologize for being privileged or be ashamed of it”

After seven years without touring, Patrice Leconte returned in 2022 with the popular Maigret, performed by Gérard Depardieu. At 75, this cinema lover still dreams of setting up new projects. Unable to remain inactive, he devoted himself, meanwhile, to another of his passions, comics, with a book devoted to Tintin.

I wouldn’t have come here if…

… If I hadn’t come from a wealthy, provincial background, with parents who were doctors and a father who was a cinephile. In my life, there has been no short circuit, no Trafalgar blow, I have not been prevented. My goal, my dream, has always been to make films. When I said: “I want to make cinema”, I was answered: “Very good! »

What luck ! This is not always the typical reaction of the bourgeois circles of the provinces of this period…

You don’t choose your environment. I don’t think you should apologize for being privileged or be ashamed of it, you just have to know it, be aware of how lucky you are. My parents had met in medicine. My mother was one of the pioneers of painless childbirth. They worked together in Tours: my mother prepared the women and my father, a gynecologist, waited for the babies to come out. We were four children, my mother ended up hanging up the gloves to take care of us.

I remember a happy childhood, we didn’t make waves. I don’t think any teacher ever remembered me. If that existed, my astrological sign would have been Chameleon. I didn’t want to be noticed. I was just looking forward to finishing my schooling by doing what was necessary to narrowly pass in the next class. Everything happened like a long, fairly calm river.

Did your father introduce you to the cinema?

It was his main hobby. He took us to the film club with my brother, but also to see popular films, Jerry Lewis. He was also making homemade movies, he filmed us in our daily life, at the beach. He had a 16 millimeter camera, a Beaulieu. He lent it to me, which enabled me to make small animated films in cut-out paper or with friends on weekends.

At the time, in Tours, there was a short film festival which lasted four days. Well in advance, my father crossed out all his appointments. And, above all, he made us skip high school so that we could attend with him. We thus saw the first short films of Polanski, Agnès Varda, William Klein, it was unheard of. He didn’t push me, but he instilled in me as a teenager the desire to express myself through this rogue art. I learned a lot by watching films and by tinkering, but the cinema still seemed far away to me. The arrival of the New Wave, with its so free cinematic grammar, made cinema possible for my generation. By an incredible coincidence, I was accepted for the competition of the Institute of Higher Cinematographic Studies (Idhec)and off I went to Paris.

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