To Stay Alive - A Method – Trailer – SFF 17

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Sydney Film Festival
Published at : 26 Dec 2020
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The 64th Sydney Film Festival – 7-18 June 2017

France's bestselling novelist, Michel Houellebecq, and music icon Iggy Pop join forces to discuss art and survival in this unique documentary based on the author's 1991 essay.

The struggling artists, many with mental problems, featured in Houellebecq's manifesto (also titled ‘To Stay Alive – A Method') and in the film, are genuine - although anonymous. As a young man, Iggy read Houellebecq's essay and recognised his own life story. A long-term fan, when the opportunity arose for Iggy to collaborate with the author, he didn't hesitate. He reads excerpts, lounging on the steps of his Miami home, talks direct to camera, and chats with Houellebecq (who also appears as a character in the film). The author describes his text as "a weak and clear signal to those on the point of giving up." The film is a surprisingly playful and stylish exploration of insanity, survival and creativity.

If Iggy Pop is the patron saint of unhappy teenagers, it's partly because the veteran rocker was once an unhappy and slightly nerdy teenager himself. Iggy reads widely and Houellebecq is now one of his favourite writers. The French novelist (whose books include Atomised, Platform and Submission) once stated that the role of the artist is to "put your finger on the wound in society and press down real hard". That is pretty much what Iggy Pop thinks too. – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent

Michel said that if you want this film to work, the people in the film should be really marginal, they shouldn't be too successful. On the other hand, I had the idea that the film also speaks to the ordinary [person] – someone with a normal job in an office who wants to step out of his chains and do something with his life. – director Erik Lieshout

Screens with: Wolfe

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