Julie Delpy Focuses on Syrian Refugees in New Project 

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MARRAKECH  — Having written the script over the last five years, Julie will act in and direct feature film “The Barbarians,” she confirmed at the Marrakech Film Festival.

“‘It is about Syrian refugees in France. It has a unique flavor. It is funny and dark. A lot of people have tackled this subject but I think my take is unique,” she said. 

The producer is Paris-based Michael Gentile (“Rosalie  Blum”) who also produced Delpy’s recent Netflix/Canal+ show, “On The Verge.”

“It is an assembly of characters,” she adds. “I have just finished writing. I am writing, directing, and acting.”

It’s not unusual for some films to take decades to make in Hollywood. A second project that she hopes to finally do now is “A Dazzling Display of Splendor,” a project she’s been working on for a decade. 

“I’ve got someone really interesting and interested in the project. I’ve reworked it and it’s practically an entirely new film. I don’t want to jinx it by saying more,” she said. 

Her original version of the film was set in the early 1900s in the early days of Silent Cinema but she did not comment on what the story is now.

Writing is what she seems to do all day.

Delpy talked abut “The Barbarians” during a sometimes candid interview at Marrakech’s flagship luxury hotel, the Mamounia, on Sunday. 

She is currently living in France and at the festival taking part in the Conversations program that sees filmmakers share their experiences with the festival’s audience, here in Morocco, at the first on-site edition of the festival in three years. 

She’s talking about growing old naturally. “I haven’t touched myself. No injections. Can you imagine a whole world where everyone has exactly the same lips and features as a Kardashian? I think plastic surgery gives a hardness. You lose the sweetness. I’m getting older. I’m starting to resemble my grandmother. There’s a sweetness. I’m going to let it be.”

She’s left her home base of Los Angeles for a year, “so my son can learn French,” she said.

“I spend most of my life writing. I’ve now started writing short stories. I’m obsessed with revenge. People taking really dark revenge. I’m just writing and writing and writing. It’s like I have writing diarrhoea. If people give me the money. I direct. Sometimes I act. I’ve just had the experience of acting again in something where I didn’t write the words for once. It was unusual.”

Family helps her get through filmmaking being a tough business, and some of her recent experiences living in Tinseltown.

“Family plays a huge role in my life,” she said. “I spend my life in my family cell. Families interest me. Relationships interest me.”

As for Los Angeles: “Hollywood is a huge machine and people are dropping like flies in the process of making films. The price is high. It’s controlled by a lot of bad people, although obviously some good ones too. The prices are high. It’s a huge machine that needs to feed new beautiful girls all the time. A lot of people have criticized the system. I’m not saying it’s all bad. There are some great films coming out if it but I go in and out. I don’t want to be swallowed by it.” 

Some things have gotten better there, she adds. 

“20-years ago it was almost unheard of  to be a woman director in Hollywood. You could count them. Nancy Meyers. Catherine Hardwicke.”

Still, she’s concerned about the industry and the world at large. 

“I am in total despair,” she said. “I dreamt about the end of the world last night, and I was escaping on a spaceship with my son and husband. I’m in total despair about this business. I’ve just been a witness of horrible people in the business. It’s not even the creators or producers or financiers, but they are just the people around. They are part of a system that’s really messed up.”

Julie Delpy at Marrakech Film Festival
Credit: Liza Foreman

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