Criminal Mind: Olivier Assayas





A generation after Godard and Truffaut penned their first film criticisms for Cahiers du Cinema, filmmaker Olivier Assayas cut his teeth there as a writer. He has subsequently directed 13 feature films.  The script of his most recent, Carlos, is as recondite as a typical article for Cahiers, trafficking in global politics and terrorism at the end of the Cold War. Carlos follows Ilich “Carlos” Ramírez Sánchez (played by Edgar Ramirez), an infamous terrorist active during the 1970s and 80s in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Although the film proposes to be a fictionalized account of the life of Carlos, Assayas took pains to investigate how he staged his deathly, agitprop Marxist protests against those nations unsympathetic to Palestine. Carlos was filmed in nine countries that stand in for 17 involved in the drama.  The film premiered at Cannes this past May, running five-and-a-half hours, and was shown at the New York Film Festival this past weekend. It will be released in the United States in its original full-length format, as a television mini-series, and as an edited two-and-a-half hour theatrical cut.


We sat down with Assayas in between a sandwich and a public appearance at the New York Film Festival to talk about Carlos.