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Amélie director launches Byre world film festival

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Renowned French film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, Alien: Resurrection, Delicatessen, A Very Long Engagement) will visit the University of St Andrews on Wednesday 14 October to appear in conversation at Byre World, the University’s new cultural events programme, which is opening with a month-long festival dedicated to Jeunet.

Jeunet already has a link to the University, having adapted the acclaimed debut novel by the University’s International Writer in Residence Reif Larsen – The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet – into the 2013 film The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet.

Commenting ahead of his appearance at the Byre World film festival, Jeunet said: “It’s always a pleasure to speak with an audience because when you work on a film, you are working with your crew and you don’t have this kind of contact with the audience. I like to speak with people and explain and share my experience with them. Of course I’m also looking forward to coming to St Andrews and exploring the coast of Scotland.”

Mr Larsen added: “I think the new Byre World series is a terrific way to connect the University of St Andrews to the wider world of contemporary international art, film and literature. And the popularity of this ‘Month of Jeunet’ shows that students have a real interest in international cinema. It’s a great opportunity for students to watch a bunch of films and then meet the creator. Wow! How cool! Jeunet’s very generous to grace us with his time, though it wasn’t that hard to lure him to this beautiful little patch of earth.”

Byre World was conceived by the University’s School of Modern Languages. Running throughout the semester, with plans to continue into 2016, the programme includes foreign-language films, public conversations with international figures from cultural and creative industries, and informal literary cafés that provide a relaxed space for readings and conversation.

Byre World is open to the public as well as University students. It is taking place at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, which reopened in October last year as a theatre, educational resource, general arts venue and music centre under the University’s stewardship.

Jeunet will appear in conversation with Mr Larsen and Elizabeth Ezra, Professor of Cinema and Culture from Stirling University. On Wednesday 21 October, Mr Larson will give a talk at Byre World, co-hosted by the Centre for Film Studies, on the experience of having his first novel adapted for the big screen by Jeunet.

Speaking about the process of adapting a novel into a film, Jeunet explained: “It’s a question of the relationship with the author. When I met Reif [Larsen], it immediately felt like we were family. We had the same tastes, the same spirit. But it must be very difficult to see your creation in someone else’s hands. I remember explaining to Reif ‘You’ve made a kid, your book is your kid. Now you have to trust me.’ For me, to be in front of a blank page, writing your own story, now that is scary. But when you are adapting a good book, it is very reassuring. I love to work because it’s not work, it’s a game.”

Mr Larsen commented: “I had always admired Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work from afar. His sense of detail, of the strange little moment between moments, had worked his way into the DNA of my writing. I think I’ve watched Delicatessen twenty times. So when he said he wanted to make my first book into a movie, you can imagine I was completely shocked. I thought someone was playing a joke on me… But it was a real privilege to watch him work, to watch the project change and shift as the adaption became its own being. I got to go on set a couple of times and even make a Hitchcock-like cameo.”

A conversation with Jean-Pierre Jeunet takes place on Wednesday 14 October at 6pm at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews (entry free).


Note to editors:

A photo call will be held on Wednesday 14 October at 11am in St Salvator’s Quad, St Andrews. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Reif Larson will be available for photos and interviews.

Note to picture editors:

This image © Karl Lagerfield: all rights reserved. Press images of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Reif Larson will be available from the Press Office, University of St Andrews, following Wednesday morning’s photo call. Contact Ruth Mackie, Marketing Coordinator, on 01334 468803 or email rem25@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Byre World was conceived and organised by four members of staff in the University’s School of Modern Languages: Professor Derek Duncan (Italian), Dr Katharine Holt (Russian), Dr Elodie Laügt (French) and Dr Catherine O’Leary (Spanish).

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