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/ News / Festival Daily
Personal Shopper: Confronting the ghost of our own self

HIGHLIGHT / MEET THE AUDIENCE / EVENT | 28/04/2017

Olivier Assayas brought his latest work, Personal Shopper, winner of the Cannes Film Festival Best Director Award, to this year’s HKIFF. Mystery and the supernatural converge in this multilayered drama, galvanized by Kristen Stewart playing a young woman trying to communicate with her dead twin brother. Assayas revealed the background behind this complicated story in his Master Class, held on 21 April at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

 

Assayas explained that he was inspired by a character torn between who she was and who she wanted to be. Personal shopping was how she made a living, but it gave her no satisfaction; rather, she was on a more profound spiritual quest. "I was interested in the character's ambivalence. As much as she despised fashion, something attracted her," the director said. "Fashion might reveal some answers as she was looking for her new identity. She questioned every dimension—including her femininity, desire and fantasy—as she examined the possibility of transforming herself."

 

Personal Shopper and Clouds of Sils Maria (his previous film) have one thing in common: Kristen Stewart played an assistant to a celebrity. "Kristen inspires me because she herself is part of the modern celebrity internet culture," he explained. "In both films, I needed to throw away the burden of celebrity and allow the audience to see the real Kristen."


Director Olivier Assayas and Host

Stewart was in a role that needed interaction less with people than with smart phones and computers. "The theme is very much about loneliness," the director said. "The way we use our smart phones to connect with family and friends transforms human identity and redefine loneliness."

 

While touching on the subject, the film is not a conventional ghost story. "I didn’t present ghosts in a traditional way,” Assayas said. “My reference point was the spiritual photography in the late 19th century, when people genuinely believed they were seeing ghosts and communicating with the spirits.”  

 

The ghost of her brother appeared once. If she’d turned around, she would’ve seen him. “She had lost faith, losing the opportunity of connecting with something she really longed for,” Assayas explained. “Ultimately she gets a second chance. Even though she still questions herself, she already understands that she would find the answer within herself."


Director Olivier Assayas and Host


The director admitted that the film was very much defined by collaborating with Stewart, who was artistically involved as more than a mere actress. Her intuition was essential, shaping how the audience would interact with the film. The last line Assayas wrote was: "Is it me?" The ghost says "yes."  Stewart came up with "Is it just me?" which is precisely how the character felt at that moment.

 

He considers that what we call ghosts, or connecting with the supernatural, is ultimately a way of connecting with our own subconscious. “Going through moments of fear and anxiety, when you're on the border of connecting with something else, you’re actually having a dialogue with yourself,” Assayas added. “The way to heal, to survive and find peace, is by accepting those things happening inside of you.” 

 

Watch the Master Class below:

 


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NEVER LOOK AWAY: Looking within for your own freedom
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PUTIN’S WITNESS: Why people give up their freedom?
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Winners of HKIFF Firebird Awards Announced
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Face to Face with Sammo Hung: Filmmaker in Focus
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Directors of HONEYLAND reflect on documentarian’s role
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MIDNIGHT FAMILY: a gripping universe seen through a private ambulance
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Jiang Wen Master Class: wits and black humor of the HIDDEN MAN
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I WAS AT HOME, BUT: Feelings of opacity and sense of enigma
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THREE ADVENTURES OF BROOKE: Searching for Chinese traditions in foreign land
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12 SUICIDAL TEENS: Delving into teenagers’ mind Japan
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GIVE ME A RIDE:Feelings of alienation away from hometown
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YOU HAVE THE NIGHT: Of darkness, fear and dilemmas
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All-star Gala Premiere of FIRST NIGHT NERVES‬
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World premiere of newly restored THE FLOWER GIRL
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Reflecting on religious beliefs through JESUS
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Community Screening: Empathize with women’s struggle through AYKA
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Michael Nyman 75th Birthday: Beyond The Piano
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IN THE CLAWS OF CENTURY WANTING: An urban vision of global poverty
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THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD: WWI history in 3D wizardry
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MANTA RAY: Dedicated to Rohingya Refugees
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WONG PING ANIMATION COLLECTION: Parables of suppressed emotions
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AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING: Meant for the Big Screen
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THE NIKAIDOS' FALL: The Root We Share
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NAKORN-SAWAN: Juxtaposing documentary and fiction
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A Hong Kong story at THE CROSSING
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Highlights
BY THE GRACE OF GOD brings a remarkable conclusion to HKIFF43
02/04/2019
NEVER LOOK AWAY: Looking within for your own freedom
02/04/2019
PUTIN’S WITNESS: Why people give up their freedom?
01/04/2019
Winners of HKIFF Firebird Awards Announced
31/03/2019
Face to Face with Sammo Hung: Filmmaker in Focus
31/03/2019
Directors of HONEYLAND reflect on documentarian’s role
31/03/2019
MIDNIGHT FAMILY: a gripping universe seen through a private ambulance
31/03/2019
Jiang Wen Master Class: wits and black humor of the HIDDEN MAN
30/03/2019
I WAS AT HOME, BUT: Feelings of opacity and sense of enigma
29/03/2019
THREE ADVENTURES OF BROOKE: Searching for Chinese traditions in foreign land
29/03/2019
12 SUICIDAL TEENS: Delving into teenagers’ mind Japan
29/03/2019
GIVE ME A RIDE:Feelings of alienation away from hometown
28/03/2019
YOU HAVE THE NIGHT: Of darkness, fear and dilemmas
28/03/2019
All-star Gala Premiere of FIRST NIGHT NERVES‬
28/03/2019
EVERYBODY KNOWS: Divulging the uncomfortable truths of a family
27/03/2019
Exploring Reclamation and Foreign Labor Issues in A LAND IMAGINED
27/03/2019
Realities and dreams mingle in VANISHING DAYS
27/03/2019
World premiere of newly restored THE FLOWER GIRL
27/03/2019
Reflecting on religious beliefs through JESUS
26/03/2019
Community Screening: Empathize with women’s struggle through AYKA
26/03/2019
Let your emotions flow with IEODO
25/03/2019
影評人朗天推介
25/03/2019
HIS LOST NAME: Extending from Kore-eda Hirokazu’s filmmaking
25/03/2019
Michael Nyman 75th Birthday: Beyond The Piano
24/03/2019
IN THE CLAWS OF CENTURY WANTING: An urban vision of global poverty
24/03/2019
STILL HUMAN: Embracing dreams in life
23/03/2019
PURE LAND: Laments for the ordinary people
23/03/2019
Revitalizing young people with OUR BODY
23/03/2019
THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD: WWI history in 3D wizardry
23/03/2019
MANTA RAY: Dedicated to Rohingya Refugees
22/03/2019
WONG PING ANIMATION COLLECTION: Parables of suppressed emotions
22/03/2019
YOUR FACE: The beauty of light and close-up
22/03/2019
AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING: Meant for the Big Screen
21/03/2019
THE NIKAIDOS' FALL: The Root We Share
21/03/2019
Director Lee Han and Kim Hyang-gi of INNOCENT WITNESS greeted the audience
21/03/2019
影評人張偉雄推介
21/03/2019
NAKORN-SAWAN: Juxtaposing documentary and fiction
21/03/2019
A Hong Kong story at THE CROSSING
21/03/2019
Tsukamoto Shinya: Don't forget the war
20/03/2019
THE SISTERS BROTHERS’ director Jacques Audiard took the limelight at the French Night
20/03/2019
Lee Chang-dong Master Class: a Voyage of Time in PEPPERMINT CANDY
20/03/2019
Centenary of Korean Cinema Illuminates HKIFF!
19/03/2019
影評人劉偉霖推介
19/03/2019
World Premiere of BODIES AT REST powers up HKIFF43!
18/03/2019
HKIFF43 Kicks Off Tonight!
18/03/2019

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