Felix De Givry and Sven Hansen-Løve on ‘Eden,’ Terrifying Sex Scenes
Inspired by the life of former DJ Sven Hansen-Løve, Eden is also a sprawling document of the origins of electronic music in France in the early ’90s. Directed by Hansen-Løve’s sister, Mia, the film wades through his journey as a DJ in a scene that spurned acts like Daft Punk (who make an appearance in the film). It’s an intoxicating story that moves at its own pace, and Hansen-Løve takes great care to create a sense of time’s ephemerality. The film stars Felix De Givry as the central character, Paul, and also stars Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann and Greta Gerwig.
In conversation at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, I spoke to Sven and Felix about their experience working on Eden and representing the roots of French electronic music on-screen.
Eden is out in San Francisco this Friday.
Something I found interesting is that the film, chronologically, ends around where we are now, in the present.
Felix: When I spoke about the film to Mia, she said she likes all her films to end in the present time.
Why is that?
Felix: To remember when she makes her film? I don’t know. I think it’s to feel the passage of time even more in the film. I think if she did a movie in the 1800s she wouldn’t end today, but she’s only been doing movies about modern times.
Sven: We end up in about 2014 because she wanted to put the Daft Punk “Within” in the movie. The story is mostly based on my souvenirs, my memories. Some of the things you see happened to me, but only up to 2011, actually. Not 2014. [laughs]
I heard that you were an aspiring teacher.
Sven: I’m doing some studies, and then I’m moving to Spain. Maybe I’ll be teaching French there.
So you stopped your literature studies way back when to be a DJ, and you’ve just now picked that back up?
Sven: Yeah, it’s true. When my sister decided to do the film I had already decided to do literature again. More or less, it relates to reality.
Let’s talk about the inception of the film. Were you and your sister looking for a way to collaborate on a project, or did this just kind of happen organically?
Sven: It was a few years ago. She wanted to do a film different from her previous ones, which she saw as a trilogy. She wanted to try a new direction. She asked me if I was interested. It was natural, but I wouldn’t say organic.
I was just a kid in the ’90s, so I had no idea about this subculture you guys cover in the film. How old were you in the ’90s, Felix?
Felix: I was born in ’91, so I was just a kid. Every movie about a generation either happens while it’s happening or twenty years later. It’s a new trend to do a biopic. It wasn’t as common in previous years of cinema.
Sven: This is the first film to really show this scene. Usually, biopics are about things that are way in the past, but this is pretty recent.
Felix, your career’s very young, but so far you’ve got a great resume going.
Felix: This is my first film. I had a very small part in Olivier Assayas’ film, Something in the Air. But this is the first real film I’ve done. I plan on being selective. That doesn’t mean a lot of projects will come to me, but I plan on not doing several movies a year. I’m not planning on being an actor the way most other actors are.
Sven: It’s not so easy to find good projects. There are not so many.
Felix: Right. And in order to be an actor there’s this vicious circle, that you have to do a lot of movies in order to be present in the media. It’s a vicious circle. I do a lot of other projects on the side, and if I do act in other films, which is something I want, it would only be in movies that feel essential to me. I would love to act in a Coen brothers film.
Is that a goal of yours?
Felix: Yeah. They’re the best [storytellers] these days. They jump between genres of film. Really fascinating.
If I was a first-time actor approaching Eden, like you did, I’d be really scared.
Felix: Yeah. It’s huge. The script was 170 pages or something. I read it at night and it was for two films, and it was even more fluid. It was a gigantic project.
Sven, Mia’s said that this movie was a way for you to move on from that period of your life.
Sven: Yeah, it was a sort of catharsis, from A to Z. I was invested in every aspect of the process. I was so into it that I didn’t have distance from it, but now I can see that it helped me.
Do you have a sense of pride in the fact that you’re representing in film this culture that hasn’t really been seen before?
Sven: I wouldn’t use the word “pride.” Giving something to people that they didn’t know before is interesting.
After acting in this movie, has your musical taste changed at all?
Felix: I do listen to more garage and house and deep house music. My taste is more contemporary; I have a label and I produce music. What’s funny is that I understand more now a certain scene that is very present today, the deep house and techno scene. I know the roots through the film. It helps me have a clear vision of music today. The film really traces the roots, and it’s really fascinating that it was really just a group of 200, 300 people who committed to this music at first in the early ’90s.
Sven: We actually had a lot of teenagers who saw the film come to see us. They’re so happy to discover all of this.
The movie’s all about details. What’s a small moment that was particularly true to life for you?
Sven: The Daft Punk scene where they try to get into the club. They told us that story, and it’s completely real.
Felix: It makes them more human. That’s what they liked about the movie.
Sven: There’s also the scene near the end where there’s the New Years Eve party on the boat and no one came. That happened. Nobody showed up.
Would you have agreed to do a film about your life with anyone but your sister?
Sven: No, I don’t think so.
Are there any plans to expand on this project? You said it was originally two films.
Sven: No. That time is over. [laughs]
Felix: There were scenes in Sweden that were in part 2 originally but were cut due to budget issues. There’s also a short film that’s about the same character.
Did you film chronologically?
Felix: No. In the apartment we shot all of the scenes with the three girlfriends over three days. It was really strange. The biggest challenge maybe were the sex scenes. We were supposed to shoot one in New York, but we went over budget and over time. We shot it three months later in Paris, so the pressure was on. It’s strange. There are many reasons why sex scenes are strange. One of the actresses was married to a guy who was working on the scene, so her husband was right there.
How do you feel about the state of music today?
Sven: I think it’s getting better, much better than in 2000. Music’s starting to sell again. Obviously CDs are over, but on the internet, things are moving.