Michel Franco Embraces His Outsider Status: ‘I Would Never Work in Hollywood’

Three years after polarizing the Venice Film Festival with his controversial class warfare drama “New Order,” Mexican director Michel Franco returned to the Lido this week to debut his latest movie, “Memory.” The film, which stars Jessica Chastain as an adult caretaker who forms a romantic connection with a dementia patient, was hailed by critics as another strong entry in Franco’s filmography.

While in Venice to promote the film, Franco found time to share his thoughts on the current state of the international film industry in an interview with French outlet AFP (via Barron’s). While he conceded that he’s most comfortable making films in his native Mexico, he said that he believes the best actors can be found in America.

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“What is very interesting about the United States are the actors,” Franco said. “In Mexico there are good actors, but the big leagues are in New York, in Los Angeles.”

That said, Franco made it clear that he would never relinquish his creative freedom to work with a Hollywood studio, even if it meant attracting bigger actors to his projects.

“I would never work in Hollywood,” he said. “I would never work for a studio where I don’t have the final cut of my film.”

Franco’s comments echo similar remarks he made in a 2022 interview with IndieWire, where he discussed turning down projects that didn’t meet his artistic standards.

“I’ve been offered stuff. Many people wanted to turn ‘New Order’ into a limited series. I’ve been offered scripts. I’ve been offered to direct some of these TV shows that actually portray Mexico in a silly way — violent, drug-related — which people embrace and I find stupid,” Franco said. “The answer is no. The pleasure comes from challenging the audience as far as I can. Again, with my actors, that’s where the pleasure comes from. I’m happy with where my filmmaking is at.”

While Franco won’t be heading to Hollywood any time soon, the filmmaker’s current approach to choosing projects is working well for him. “Memory” earned him rave reviews for expanding his narrative horizons while still showcasing his unique talents.

“’Memory’ bucks the tradition of the cold films previously made by the director of the apocalyptic 99-percent-uprising thriller ‘New Order’ and high-school bullying drama ‘After Lucia'” IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio wrote in his Venice review of the film. “They’re films that seem calm at the outset, but you wait for the other blood-dipped shoe to drop. That shoe never quite hits the ground in the peculiar and sensitive ‘Memory,’ which stars Jessica Chastain as a 13-years-sober alcoholic who reconnects with a former school classmate, Saul (played by Peter Sarsgaard), at a reunion she doesn’t want to be at anyway.”

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