Night cap with Panthéon Discount

Meeting with...

Interview with Stéphan Castang, director of Panthéon Discount

 

la mouche cf What interested you in medical diagnosis?
First, Panthéon Discount came from a proposition by Pascale Faure and Brigitte Pardot for the Canal+ short film collection “Demain si j’y suis” (Editor’s note: the entire program will be shown during the 2017 Festival). The order was clear for each director: write and direct a film that takes place in 2050 (in the end, seven films were made). To inspire us in the writing of the films, we were invited to attend conferences addressing the future (in every field: work, urbanization, agriculture, medicine…). We learned of machines that could cure all kinds of serious illnesses, that we were going to live to be 200, etc. This perspective seemed frightening (already, living for 200 years seems far from inspiring). I was already interested in the financial aspect of medical diagnosis and treatment provided by a machine…

la mouche cf Are you more interested in the place of the doctor who “gives” the diagnosis, or in the deductive aspect of this diagnosis?
I asked myself the following question: if the machine cures all, what will become of doctors? The film’s hypothesis is that the doctor of the future is more of a financial adviser than a therapist. So, we follow three patients in parallel which show that based on their financial means, they will not have the right to the same treatment. In a way, we aren’t far from that in our current reality…

la mouche cf Why did you want to address the connection between financial capabilities and medical choices?
What interested me was to use the genre of social science fiction to push this connection all the way to the absurd. It seemed to me that this absurdity allowed me to concretely address the commodification of the human being. I didn’t want it to serve a “social” purpose. It was above all a short film about two individuals, the patient face-to-face with their doctor. This is the reason for the simple format, always seeing from the perspective of the doctor with a voice-over narration, a shot that waits until the end of the film to have its reverse shot, to discover the doctor’s face and realize that he is also in part a victim of the system….

la mouche cf Could you have made Panthéon Discount based on other constraints, such as legal obligations?
In a way, the film deals with the content of your bank account as a “legal obligation”… A “legal obligation” would imply the ideology of an authoritarian or totalitarian state. We aren’t in this kind of state. Ultra-liberalism claims to be pragmatic and to not fall under any ideology… Of course, this is not true.

la mouche cf What do you think of France’s social security system? Does it in fact allow us to make different choices based on each individual’s financial capabilities?
Above all, I think that any excuse is a good excuse to beat up on it…

Panthéon Discount 3

la mouche cf With elections approaching, what do you think of current political debate about this institution? Were you thinking of current events when you made Panthéon Discount ?
I made the film well before the circus surrounding the presidential elections started up, but we can see the platforms of certain candidates: there is always a temptation to call into question the very definition of public services. Each has his own view, my opinion matters little… I don’t intend to add any additional commentary to the current clamor…

la mouche cf In Panthéon Discount, you play with illogicality in the situations you present. Are you particularly fond of absurdity?
Above all, I like absurd humor… it allows us to laugh about serious things.

la mouche cf Your two male characters resist the medical advice whereas your female character accepts it. Is this a mere coincidence or were you trying to denounce the anchoring in submission that is considered “acceptable” in our society?
All interpretations are possible, but I don’t entirely agree with your “diagnosis”. There are two characters who accept: Jean-Pierre Kalfon’s character resists but gives his tentative agreement to the doctor’s proposition. For the female character played by Martine Schambacher, she accepts without resistance to allow her memories to be erased, but her situation is urgent. The only character that truly opposes the doctor is the blind man (Christian Delvallée) who does not want to be “improved”, preferring to continue living with his handicap…

la mouche cf Finally, you question our relationship with technological tools. What did you find interesting about “tools of the future”?
The technology in Panthéon Discount is above all a tool for us to switch over into fiction. The film’s machine, the “Sherlock”, is a pretext to talk about our health system as it is currently emerging. That’s what always fascinated me with the genre of social science fiction: its ability to talk of the worries of the present by transposing them. With films like Soylent Green, or The Jetty, I always have the feeling that it’s not as much about showing images of the future, but more transforming our experience of the present. Surely it was in remembering these films that my first intuition was to shoot the film in black and white, in order to amplify the strangeness of the film…

la mouche cf Do you think that technology represents salvation or danger for humanity?
I don’t really know… When encountering new technology, we need to always ask ourselves if in exchange for this service and the new ability it gives us, does it also take away an ability. A GPS allows me to find my way around a town that I don’t know, but I end up losing my ability of orientation, using maps, mental representation… I save time, but I lose knowledge, the pleasure of discovery, chance occurrences…

la mouche cf Any cinematic coups de cœur in the past year you’d like to tell us about?
Elle by Paul Verhoeven, In Jackson Heights by Frederick Wiseman, Mercenary by Sacha Wolff, Arrival by Denis Villeneuve…

la mouche cf If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
This is my first time at the festival… Seeing that I have the addresses of a few restaurants, I expect to put on a few kilos…

 

 

Panthéon Discount is being shown in National Competition F5.

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