Directors to Watch 2008: Romain Gavras

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Credit: Photograph by André Chemetoff.
Greece-born, France-raised director Romain Gavras says he wasn't looking to cause trouble when he directed Justice's now well-known "Stress"video, which features a pack of young toughs wreaking havoc through the streets of Paris, an apparent commentary on disaffected urban youth reminiscent of films like Man Bites Dog, La Haine and A Clockwork Orange. "Well, it's violent," he concedes. "But only people make it controversial. Controversy was not my goal, otherwise I would have thrown in a few whores and a few Nazis." Nevertheless, political themes are apparent in 27-year-old Gavras' other work, like his recent clip for The Last Shadow Puppets, which juxtaposes scenes of an iceskating hopeful, Russian military and religious devotion.

Perhaps the work of his father, political filmmaker Constantin Costa-Gavras, rubbed off. Yet the skill in the young Gavras' filmmaking is all his own. On "Stress," for example, daring and risk played a huge role in achieving the urgency and verite style. "We had no authorization to shoot anywhere," he says. "We had to play catch with the police. Fortunately, we had a sexy assistant who had to sacrifice her body to an officer to save us from shooting shut down. That's what I call team commitment." Later this year, Gavras will release A Cross the Universe, a full-length documentary of the band's U.S. tour, which he co-directed with friend So-Me. He's also finishing the screenplay for his first feature, to star French actor Vincent Cassel.

Read about Vincent Morisset, another of our 2008 Directors to Watch.

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