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1996 – 35mm – color – 97’


Direction: Olivier Assayas

Screenplay: Olivier Assayas

Cinematography: Eric Gautier

Editing: Luc Barnier

Music: Philippe e Yan Richard

Set design: François-Renaud Labarthe

Costumes: Françoise Clavel

Cast: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler, Nathalie Boutefeu, Alex Descas

Producers: Georges Benayoun, Françoise Guglielmi

Production: Dacia Films




Maggie Cheung, a Hong Kong film star, arrives in Paris to play the role of Irma Vep, the protagonist of the remake of famous French silent serial film Les Vampires by Feuillade. René Vidal, a famous director who has been in crisis for some years now, partly because of his bad temper, wanted at all costs to cast her. Though disoriented, Maggie, as a perfect professional, fits in and is immediately willing to interact with René and the whole crew. But the first day of filming doesn’t go smoothly, and at the end of the day René walks away furiously, leaving Maggie, who joins the other members of the crew for a party. And as René gets more and more confused, on set and in real life the roles, loves, reality and fiction become something fluid.


Irma Vep begins as a reflection on cinema. On who makes it, to whom it belongs, on the bodies-actors, the reversibility of roles, on cinema as a curious and amazed gaze upon the world. But it is not a thesis essay, its reflection has to do with the senses, with passion, with gaze. In an attempt to find again a pure gaze, as Assayas says, a virgin gaze. That is, the gaze of the cinema of the past, of spectators of the past. And Les Vampires by Louis Feuillade, with the “mythical” (for the French) Musidora, which becomes the place where to gather passions, fragments, speeches, etc. And the remake director René Vidal has to film only materialises the idea that it is impossible for cinema (and for life) to go back to being what it once was.” (Federico Chiacchiari, Cineforum No. 358, October 1996)



1997 Rotterdam International Film Festival: Premio KNF Award a to Olivier Assayas