The director with an appetite for destruction

The pop video he made for M.I.A was banned by YouTube. Now Romain Gavras has made his first film

It's part of the package that when you hire Romain Gavras, there's a good chance the end product will fall foul of the censors.

Last year, he directed the video for M.I.A's single "Born Free" – a bloody short featuring military forces rounding up and executing children simply because they had red hair. YouTube soon made the video impossible to find. Two years before that, several French TV stations boycotted the video he made for "Stress" by the French electro band Justice, featuring black and Middle Eastern hoodlums rampaging through the streets of Paris in a nod to the 2005 riots. And in February this year, the Advertising Standards Authority became his latest scourge, banning his promo for the Yves Saint Laurent fragrance Belle D'Opium after complaints that the actress in it, Melanie Thierry, looked like she was taking heroin.

"I don't deliberately try to shock my audience. Sometimes I'm going to try to provoke a reaction. But it's weird that you can see Saddam Hussein being hanged on YouTube yet my video's been banned," he says. "I don't think anything that I do is wrong or shocking. I'm way more shocked by a film like Rob Marshall's Nine, for example – bad taste like that rapes my eyes. So it's a problem of perspective. To me the M.I.A video is fun. Those shocked by it should turn the news on and see how the real US military kills real people."

In typically confrontational style, instead of using his debut feature film Our Day Will Come to move away from these controversies, Gavras has embraced them with a premise straight out of the "Born Free" video and a title borrowed from the IRA. In the film, a young lad (Oliver Barthélémy) is ostracised from his soccer team and mocked for having red hair. His psychiatrist (Vincent Cassel) turns out to be a psychopath and after some rebel-rousing advice the pair decide to fight their way to Ireland, the holy land of redheads.

The plot is enigmatic and threadbare, but, says Gavras, deals with big issues that the French authorities like to ignore: "The ginger people are just a simple shortcut to a stereotype. I wanted to talk about identity and how it is to be French and a human – not knowing who you are and having anger."

Like his Justice video, the film is inspired by the riots that habitually explode in the French banlieues. "These kids have the reasons to go nuts and create mayhem but they have no goal or idea about what they are fighting for.In the 1970s they could have said, 'We want to be Communist'. But now it's hard for these kids to relate to any side."

The difficulties faced by those on the left was a major theme in the work of his father, Costa Gavras. Like him, Gavras Jr. wants to make movies that mix politics with entertaining commercialism but is relaxed about the expectations that come with the family name. "I'm proud of my father and my heritage, so I don't carry it like a burden."

The internet has been a boon for him. Whenever his work has been banned his many fans have ensured that it's made available online. At the trendy South by Southwest festival he was feted alongside Spike Jonze as one of the great promo-makers working today. It's no surprise, then, that the big commercial companies have come calling. Earlier this year he made a $7m short for Adidas featuring David Beckham, Lionel Messi and Katy Perry. The budget was five times that of his feature film. Beckham, he says, was a consummate professional. Messi, meanwhile, was harder to crack and terribly shy. Gavras sees it as a victory that he got the world's best footballer to smile.

Gavras splits his time between Paris, LA and East London, where his young daughter lives with his ex-partner. It's a jetset lifestyle that's a long way from the dreams that he and his friend, the director of Dog Pound, Kim Chapiron had when they formed their production company Kourtrajamé in 1996. Vincent Cassel became their unofficial mentor after the youngsters approached him in the street. "We've known each other a long time," says Gavras. "I've known Kim since we were babies. He did the stills on my film. When someone has a project everyone comes and fits in, in some way."

Our Day Will Come' is out this Friday

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris
architecture

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album