What are we searching for in our adoration and fascination with “stars”?
These human beings of bright appearance, who, because they are gifted
artistically, find themselves catapulted into the world of stardom which
constitutes “show business.” It is a world everyone dreams
about—money and entertainment—two words synonymous with
happiness and recognition. At least that’s what we are led to
Are we trying to fill the emptiness of our ordinary lives? Do we find
in others what we would have liked to be (famous and adored)? Are we
really transported by their artistic universe?
I don’t recall ever being a “fan” or having any idols.
However, I have been, for a long time, fascinated by fans and their
irrational behavior, their desperate passion, their desire and fantasy,
which is most of the time accompanied by emotional fragility and deep
distress. In extreme cases, fans see their idols as a drug and devote
themselves entirely to them even though the stars have no real presence
in their lives. It’s an unfathomable mystery.
How can one cross the magic mirror standing between these two very distinct
and separate worlds? Can it really happen, or is it doomed to remain
an illusion? Is some form of communication possible between admirers
and those who are admired? Why is it that I don’t feel anything
in front of a star and others faint? This is what inspired me to make
Backstage, the story of one fan’s crazed passion for a
Only in film could such a meeting take place, in this case pushed to
its extreme, because in real life fans don’t meet their idols.
They are separated by insurmountable obstacles such as windows, barriers
and bodyguards. Countless limitations are put up against these completely
opposite worlds, which are nevertheless intertwined. At times, a meeting
is possible but the seconds are strictly counted.
My story could have been, through the magic of fiction, a fairytale
but I chose to stay close to what I thought was likely and realistic,
and capture the craziness and perversity that, in extreme cases, take
over fans when they come face to face with their idols. At the same
time, I wanted to show that celebrities are caught up in this game as
well—in order to remain stars, they must keep the public interested
and fascinated. In this sense, Backstage is a film on this game
of power and dependence, just as any film about passionate or impossible
This fascination, when it becomes unhealthy, as is the case in the film,
is alienating and becomes a dependency like any other. In its excessive
expression, the addiction is like any other hard and destructive drug.
In France nowadays, I think young people—led into a race to stardom
by the numerous reality TV shows which give the false impression that
anybody can become famous and adored after one televised song—admire
stars not for who they are, but for what they themselves want to be,
rich and famous, like them. Young French people are fascinated by the
idea of celebrity. The stars become examples to follow and stardom a
goal to attain.
I don’t have enough knowledge of American society to analyze its
fascination with celebrities. But the U.S. is the cradle of the “star
system,” producing the biggest stars in the world and the only
ones who continue to survive. It is commonly agreed that in France,
for example, there are no more “stars” in the noble sense
of the word. It must be that American society knows, better than any
other, how to create and sustain its idols—much in the same way
as we have created and sustained mythology…
A few months ago, I presented Backstage at the Toronto International
Film Festival and after the screening, actor Gabriel Byrne—who
I love—made a brilliant comment (it seemed to me) which evoked
precisely the subject of the film and how American society deals with
its idols. He was standing there in front of me and I was so excited
that I can’t remember a word he said. That experience taught me
to be a fan, for a few brief moments!