Kim Chapiron Interview, Director Sheitan

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We had an opporunity to interview the director of Sheitan.

Sheitan is one of those films that is sure to scare the living crap out of you. Or so its being billed.  Satan. Lucifer. Sheitan. Call him whatever you like, just don’t forget he exists. Combining never-shredding suspense, jet-black humor and gut-wrenching horror, Sheitan, the debut film from French director Kim Chapiron, will demonically possess DVD shelves on December 26th from Tartan Video. 

On Christmas Eve, a group of young guys meet two gorgeous girls who invite them to spend the weekend in the country, where they meet Joseph (Vincent Cassel, Ocean’s Twelve, Irreversible), a creepy, unkempt man whose pregnant wife remains hidden in the large house. That evening, what begins innocently as Christmas dinner turns into disturbing conversations about sex, satanic possession, and incest. Joseph’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and the young friends realize their host has made a pact with the devil and all hell is about to break loose.

A recent Midnight Madness selection at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, Sheitan also screened at the 2006 Tribeca, Edinburgh and Melbourne Film Festivals. Director Kim Chapiron is a member of Kourtrajmé, a loose collective of vibrant, cutting-edge young French filmmakers. Founded in 1995, this incredibly dynamic collective counts among its members actor/producer Vincent Cassel, French rap group Le Nguyen, Sheitan star Romain Gavras and graphic artist Kiki Picasso. Sheitan was produced by Kourtrajmé and features the talent of many of the group's members.

What were some of your major influences when writing/directing the film?

Dropping acid with my co-writer, who also happens to be my father.

This film seems to be all over the place in terms of where it should fit. I  have heard it called gruesome horror and others say it is rather humorous.  Was that your intention from the beginning to blur the lines of the genre?

It all happen spontaneously. My fundamental intention was to tickle a reaction out of my audience, by any means necessary.

Did you feel alot of pressure this being your first feature to create  something out of this world?

None. Only pleasure.

Was it hard trying to get this movie made? I can't imagine walking into  meetings with possible investors with this script.

It took me four years to make this film. Vincent Cassel, who was also co-producer on this project, trusted my vision. It’s all a matter of trust.

Vincent Cassel is a madman in this film. Was he really in character for this  role or were you right there coaxing him along to develop this insane character?

During the entire shoot, Vincent was always in Joseph’s character, even in between takes.

What is the reaction that you usually get after a screening from people?

Any reaction, good or bad, proves that I’ve accomplished my job.

Sheitan has been to several film festivals and now has a deal with Tartan to  release a DVD in the United States. Were you at all surprised with all the  attention the film has received?

The film was released in 34 countries. As a result, I went on a world tour and traveled all continents. One thing I’ve learned is that sensitivities change according to different cultures. Some guffawed at some jokes, whereas others remained stoic at the same joke. Same thing with fear sensation.

It must have been great being able to work with Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci in your debut feature film. How was it working with them?

Great. They are genuinely beautiful and gifted people. I’ve known Vincent for more than ten years. He has starred in most of my short-films. Sit back and relax because the three of us have big plans.

This film is filled with plenty of intense scenes, but which one in particular was the hardest for you to shoot?

The hot spring was hands down the hardest to shoot. We build it on a sound stage thanks to the amazing work and effort from our set designers.

One of those intense scenes I would guess would be the stillborn scene. Have you seen Antropophagus and was that a influence on that scene at all? If not where did it come from?

I haven’t seen this picture. This is the story of my life and how my mom gave birth to me.

Looking back on the movie now, is there anything about the film that you would have changed? I know filmmakers are generally picky about their films and sometimes wish they had more money or resources to shoot more scenes.

No regrets. This is the film that I had envisioned from its creation on a blank piece of paper. My only regret would be that I couldn’t be at two places at once during simultaneous releases.

DO you feel like all the work you did on your previous shorts and working with Cassel beforehand helped the film?

Of course.

I have heard that you are the member of a group of filmmakers called Kourtrajmé. Could you explain to us exactly what this group is about?

Check this link

In a recent interview I read that you really have no interest in doing  anymore horror films. Do you still feel that way because we definetly need  more talented directors like yourself making quality genre films rather than the drivel that Hollywood is shoving down our throats.

Making a picture is tremendous work and effort. Life is too short. That’s why my twisted mind loves switching worlds and exploring new genres.

Who are some of your favorite directors?

Sam Peckinpah, Emir Kusturika.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

I’m currently co-writing a feature in the NY with my long-time buddy Jeremie Delon. The topic of this project is juvenile correctional centers in America. Partizan (Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, Science of Sleep…) is producing it. The shooting is scheduled this summer. Look out for it. It’s going to be raw, sincere, violent, moving, and like Sheitan, it will not leave you indifferent.

I'd like to personally thank you Kim for taking time out of your busy  schedule to answer some questions for us. Is there anything else you would  lke to add or any movies you would like to plug?

We don’t fake it, we just take it!!

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