A cut above

A guest at this year’s Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, Oscar-nominated film editor Herve de Luze, speaks to the ‘Post’ about his ongoing partnership with director Roman Polanski

Jerusalem Film Festival (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Film Festival
The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, which runs until December 12 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, is giving its achievement award to Hervé de Luze, a film editor who has worked extensively with many of the top directors in the world.
He has won three Cesar Awards and has been nominated for an Oscar.
He has had an ongoing partnership with Roman Polanski, with whom he has worked with on 10 films and whose work will be honored at the film festival with screenings of The Pianist, Oliver Twist and a program of short films.
De Luze will attend the screenings of the two feature films and will discuss them afterwards.
“I’ve very happy to come for this festival. It’s a great opportunity,” said de Luze in a recent interview via telephone from Paris. “I think it’s even safer than Paris.”
De Luze, who learned his craft working on underground movies and documentaries, was first approached to work with Polanski on the movie Tess.
“They were recutting it for the American release. Polanski was trekking in Nepal. [The late producer/ director] Claude Berri said it was too long for America, so we cut it from what had been released in France... Later we cut the negative, because Roman said it was better in the shorter version. Thanks to Roman, I met Claude Berri,” with whom he has since worked many times.
Although de Luze didn’t work directly with Polanksi on Tess, this was the beginning of their partnership.
“He is one of the greatest living cinema directors. I was very impressed with him, and happy that he felt he could trust in my craft, in my ability,” said de Luze.
However, the young editor was not intimidated by the man who had directed such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown.
“I felt immediately that I could work well with him. He was asking questions, ‘Do you like this or don’t you like this?’ He would say, ‘Don’t stay in the middle.’ So I told him what I thought.”
Following his stint cutting Tess, de Luze worked with Polanski on Pirates, Bitter Moon, Death and the Maiden, The Ninth Gate, The Pianist (which won Polanski an Oscar for Best Director, and as well as a Best Actor Oscar for Adrien Brody and a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Ronald Harwood), Oliver Twist, The Ghostwriter, Carnage and Venus in Furs.
Other well-known films on which de Luze has worked include Berri’s Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, and Alain Resnais’ Wild Grass.
“There is no one particular kind of film I like to work on. I like good films,” said de Luze, who has worked on every genre of film, including comedies and popular contemporary dramas such as Guillaume Canet’s Little White Lies.
At the beginning of de Luze’s career, Orson Welles was an important influence.
“Citizen Kane, all of his films. Martin Scorsese, his movies are brilliantly edited, I love them a lot.
But I love movies from all over the world, not one type or country.”
De Luze has worked on several films set in Afghanistan, among them Atiq Rahimi’s The Patience Stone and Barmak Akram’s Wajman, An Afghan Love Story.
“I work on films shot all over the world, Asia, Africa, everywhere.”
Asked what advice he would have for aspiring film editors, de Luze said, “The most important thing is to work as much as possible.
Every kind of film, short films. You shouldn’t wait for the right project.
You learn on every project. You just accept everything that comes along. You can learn even from doing bad movies. You can make them better.”