Paul Schrader in New Project on Stupid Things Men Do for Love


Paul Schrader has long been known for his gruff personality, but he was in good spirits and slightly nostalgic during the press conference at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Oh, Canada, where he also revealed his next film.

Schrader’s iconic team-up with Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver, premiered at the festival, and the filmmaker has had several runs at the French fest since. This year’s Cannes sees the return of not only Schrader, but Francis Ford Coppola with Megalopolis and George Lucas, who will be on hand to receive the honorary Palme d’Or.

When asked if, at the time, he knew that himself and other directors that were dubbed “New Hollywood” were changing film, forever. “Yes,” said Schrader, bluntly, to big laughs from the audience.

He added: “When the late ’60s hit, studios were in a state of crisis and anxiety,” said the filmmaker during a time of anxiety in the industry that saw many films failing at the box office. “All of a sudden Easy Rider makes money and there was a golden moment for a period of five or six years when you could walk into a studio and they would actually listen to you.” Schrader would spend the next decade making films like Blue Collar, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Hardcore.

As for Oh, Canada, which is premiering in the Cannes Film Festival competition, follows Leonard Fife, a renowned documentarian who, as he is dealing with a terminal illness, decides to sit for a documentary to tell the truth about his own life story while his wife and longtime filmmaking partner, Emma (Uma Thurman), listens in the wings. The story flashes back to his younger, unmoored self (Jacob Elordi) who stumbles into a career as a documentarian and travels to Canada under the auspices of dodging the Vietnam draft, but is revealed to be running away from even more responsibilities.

“Everybody I knew had to make a decision,” said Schrader of the Vietnam draft, adding he did not have to participate due to medical reasons. “My best friend went to Amsterdam. Oliver Stone went to Vietnam and got an Oscar! We all had to make a decision back then.”

When asked if there are parallels between the Vietnam draft and the war effort in Ukraine, Schrader offered, “I don’t think anyone in Ukraine who thinks they were going to an unjust war, which was the situation in America.”

Oh, Canada is the first time Schrader and Gere have worked together since American Gigolo. “Of course, I haven’t changed at all,” joked Gere of the time between the two films. “[Paul] has gotten a little crustier in the meantime but he has earned that.”

Gere was asked how he and Elordi, who was not in attendance at the festival, established their shared character. “He reminded me very much of my son, which was great. He was watching me, which is what I would have done,” said Gere. “He had an incredible warmth to him and a humility about him. He comes in and works hard.”

He added, with a laugh, “I am much taller than him as you all know.” (Elordi stands at 6’5″.) Offered Thurman: “I did notice Jacob Elordi capture the ‘ol Gere strut.”

When asked about the future of Hollywood, Schrader said: “We live in an era of permanent change. We used to know what a voice was, we used to know how long it was, we used to know where you say it, we used to know how you monetized it. We don’t know these things anymore.” The director noted that the best work in “audiovisual entertainment” is happening in episodic television. Offered Schrader of Hollywood ebs and flows, “I don’t think you can fight it. I think, you just have to groove with it.”

As for his future, in the final minutes of the press conference, Schrader revealed that he is gearing up for his new film, currently titled Non Compos Mentis, meaning “not in one’s right mind” or “not sane,” describing it as a noir.

“Last night we had a party, every other person, David [Gonzales, producer] introduced me to had put money in the film.” Gonzales pointed out that this type of financing allows Schrader to have the final cut on his projects.

He said of the project that is currently going out to cast, “It’s about the stupid things men do for love.”

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