How do you see the relationship between the mechanical eye (that, of the camera), the animal eye (those, you shoot) and the human eye (yours, perhaps)?
The film tries to relate and make these different means of visibility dependent. It seems to me that only cinema knows how to create these endless labyrinths of shot/reverse shot – between what you see and what is seen. In my previous film, Antelopes, we tried to explore the dangerous and ominous dimension of this characteristic. In Animal Eye we explore another field, more positive and fertile, of these dialectics of visibility. That is, how to make our gaze humbler in the face of the gaze of others – between dogs, between humans, and between dogs and humans – and, above all, what remains of these relationships. This has to do with friendship. To me, this is a “friendship movie”, in the same sense we refer to “love movies”. Cinema is more about friendship than about what we call “love”, I think! At the very least, cinema would do less harm to humanity and other species if it approached less of what we call love.
Several excerpts from other films are used in the film, in which dogs appear. How was this research work done, and how did you build this relationship between the narrative and the archive?
The two confinements helped a lot! I did a lot of research on the Internet, I found sites and other people with the same interest on “dogs in cinema”. I wrote down a lot of titles with dogs in several “heritage” movies, more than in blockbusters. Over a year, I watched many movies with this renewed attention, and I noticed that there are dogs in almost all of them. I now believe that dogs are featured in 99% of the history of cinema! Which is understandable since dogs, more than other species, inhabit every part of human life: at home, on the street, in the workshop, in the countryside, etc. So, I had to adopt an almost religious strictness in the fragmentation of these excerpts! I organized about 3000 shots thematically. In the editing, we tried to abandon the “catalogue” logic to make this connection more poetic, kinetic, and to relate everything to the narrative. In the end, “only” 250 film excerpts remained.
There are several dualities in the film, Brittany/Lisbon, the Animal/Human, the Director/the Producer, even your two dogs with different personalities, which create tensions and connections throughout the film. Was it intentional?
It was, yes, absolutely! At the beginning of the film, the schizophrenia about what cannot be reconciled – namely between the financial and artistic dimensions of cinema – is approached. But then, the film will try to reconcile the irreconcilable. This has to do with the first question: how one party can help another party, and how can connections, friendships, etc., be created. And, above all, an essential question for me, what are distances made of? I won’t say anything else because these reflections are really part of the film’s resolution