The last couple of weeks have seen a flurry of activity surrounding the new film by the prolific Michel Hazanavicq. He is best known for his iconic fashion campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, and Chanel, which earned him the title of the “Prince of Fashion”. His latest film, The Family, depicts the complex, sometimes troubled, connections that can form among family and friends when they come together for important events such as the winter holidays or a wedding. Hazanavicq, who won the coveted Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival for The Family, spoke to Dazed Digital about the film, what it means to be the prince of fashion, and the future of movie making.

The Family Is An Examination Of Relationships

Hazanavicq’s first feature-length film, The Waiting (2012), which he also directed, was an exploration of loneliness and searching for connection during the course of a family vacation. Since then, he has focused on examining the dynamics of relationships, especially the ones that we, as humans, are prone to build and sustain.

Relationships, especially the ones that exist within the context of a family, can be difficult to navigate. While you may want to provide for your children and ensure they have everything they need, you may also end up suffocating them. For this reason, Hazanavicq likens The Family to a “novelty shop” for families, where the focus is not so much on the needs of the individual as it is on creating lasting connections that can withstand the test of time.

“What I tried to do with [The Waiting],” he explains, “is capture the sense of longing in the moments before somebody says something, makes a misstep or a wrong move. It’s about people trying to keep their balance.”

The Family is an eclectic group of characters, all of whom are in search of something or someone, though not all are looking for the same thing. The majority of the action takes place over the course of a single day, beginning with a tense breakfast meeting and culminating in an emotional plea from one of the characters, played by Juliette Binoche.

“They’re all looking for meaning,” says Hazanavicq. “And for some it’s a struggle because they feel they don’t have any. They need to find something to believe in; the meaning of life is always something we explore. For others, they’re simply looking for companionship. So they decide to go on a journey together, to find what they’re looking for. And that journey, for all of them, is filled with struggle. But it’s also filled with hope.”

The Family, which will be released in the UK on 15 November, is an intimate and honest look at human nature and the lengths that we will go to for the people and things we care about. It touches on themes that are just as relevant today as they were 80 years ago, though Hazanavicq does acknowledge that the issues that his characters face are still present, more so perhaps than ever before.

A Modern Day ‘Grand Tour’

“I started making films for the same reasons as Picasso’s did,” said Hazanavicq, who was a student at the time of the Spanish artist’s death in April 1901. “To challenge myself and see what I could do. It was a sort of a ‘grand tour’ of Europe. He went to Paris, then to London and then ended up in Barcelona. The same thing with me. I went to New York, then to Los Angeles, and then to Europe.”

The comparison to Picasso is apt, as The Family is similarly intimate in scope, drawing the audience into a world that is both familiar and strange at the same time. The Spanish director collaborated with the noted French photographer Pierre Albarran on the cinematography for The Family, and the two workmates have created something unique. Their pairing of stills and scenes from the film are a hybrid of black and white and colour, bringing to life scenes from a forgotten time with a cinematic magic all of their own.

“These two photographers know how to make a narrative film look like a dream,” said Hazanavicq of his collaborators. “As a documentarian, I love it. It’s a combination of the two of them, the way they can capture light and space, colour and mood, in a way that feels effortless. It’s not at all like a typical photo shoot. It’s much more organic, much more cinematic. That’s what we were trying to do with this film.”

The Spanish director is known for taking on projects that challenge him, both artistically and intellectually, and The Family is certainly such a project, not just because of its historical and literary allusions, but also because of its examination of complex issues. It will no doubt provoke discussion and an honest exchange of ideas amongst film buffs and academics, making it yet another worthwhile addition to Hazanavicq’s already impressive oeuvre.