No need to introduce Viggo Mortensen, the multi-award winning actor, whose most recent accolade was a career achievement Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Festival last month. But the Lumière classic film festival in Lyon was a chance to get up close and personal with Mortensen, the director, at a masterclass in the intimate Comédie Odéon theater.
Switching comfortably between French, English and the occasional Spanish – Mortensen lives in Madrid – the actor-turned-director answered openly to the questions put to him.
Mortensen’s debut, “Falling,” is among 23 films originally selected to premiere in Cannes that will be screened at this edition of Lumière, whose director, Thierry Frémaux, also runs the Cannes fest. It tells the story of John, a gay man whose conservative and homophobic father starts to exhibit symptoms of dementia, forcing him to sell the family farm and move in with John and his husband. Asked how autobiographic the film is, Mortensen said that while he was inspired by his own parents’ illness, he wanted to show the world from the point of view of the person suffering from dementia.
“Most movies about people with dementia show them as confused, but in reality the people who are confused are those on the outside. The one who thinks it’s 1956 and he’s making love to his wife – he’s not confused, he’s there, that’s his present,” said Mortensen. “It was a very short shoot – just five weeks – and I wanted a library of pictures from different seasons to use as a memory for this person. I wanted to find a way of showing this (reality) through image and sound, that was the challenge for me.”
How did he prepare for the film?
“Making movies is about solving a series of problems that don’t end until the