From Cannes Film Festival, Travis Mathews Submits to The Proust Questionnaire

This post is also available in: French

American film director Travis Mathews has made a name for himself through his unflinchingly intimate and sexually explicit films. His 2010 film I Want Your Love depicts a night of sex between friends, ex-lovers and roommates as their artistic pal prepares to leave San Francisco. In 2014, Mathews co-directed Interior. Leather Bar. with actor James Franco, reimagining the cut sex scenes from controversial 1980 gay thriller Cruising.

Last February at the Berlinale International Film Festival, Mathews presented his latest film, Discreet. The director is now at the Cannes Film Festival to chair the jury of the Queer Palm, the LGBT film prize created by Franck Finance-Madureira (which this year is sponsored by Hornet).

To get to know him better, we interviewed Mathews using a slightly lighter version of the Proust questionnaire, a series of cinema questions used by James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio.

Your favourite virtue

Eyes-on-the-prize perseverance with enough talent to justify the long slog.

Your favourite qualities in a man

Resistance to the authoritarian agenda of Donald J. Trump and the cynical self-serving cronies in America’s Republican party.

Your favourite qualities in a woman

Resistance to the authoritarian agenda of Donald J. Trump and the cynical self-serving cronies in America’s Republican party.

Your favourite occupation

At the moment, armchair punditry. Followed by what I do, making movies!

Your chief characteristic

I have a love/hate relationship to how obsessive I can be.

Your idea of happiness

A front-row seat at the public shaming, flogging and burning at the stake of Donald J. Trump. I’m a little uncomfortable with how much I want to see this thin-skinned excuse for a human being suffer in a grand, emasculating fashion. Same for the sycophants who think they can use him to their own ends.

Your idea of misery

Not having a front-row seat at the public shaming, flogging and burning at the stake of Donald J. Trump.

If not yourself, who would you be?

Any prosecutor in any forthcoming shaming, flogging and burning at the stake of Donald J. Trump.

Where would you like to live?

It would be nice to live on the other side of this embarrassingly incompetent, ignorant and dangerously self-serving mess of an administration. Maybe in Big Sur with my husband.

Your favorite prose authors

For now, Orwell.

Your favorite poets

For now, Maya Angelou.

Your favorite painters and composers

My favorite painter for always is Andrew Wyeth. No painter better captures the stark beauty and ominous dread of rural America. Composers for now — Richard D. James? Angelo Badalamenti? John Cale? John Cage? Goblin? Dystopian disorientation with the occasional emotional swell.

Your favorite heroes/heroines in real life

As a teenager I was rumored to be the lost love child of David Lynch and Madonna, so I’ll stick with mom and dad!

Your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction

Laurie Strode from Halloween, obviously.

Your favorite food and drink

Pizza and Negronis.

Your pet aversion

It’s a tie between willful ignorance and muscular displays of masculinity as thinly veiled attempts to hide misogyny. But to be true, they usually go hand-in-hand.

What characters in history do you most dislike?

There’s a long list from the current U.S. administration, starting with the Orange Julius at the top.

What is your present state of mind?

Surprisingly more hopeful than ever. People are finally speaking their minds and fighting the global oligarchical power grabs disguised as populist uprisings. We’ll see how things shake out, but everyday people continue to inspire me to do more and to consider what’s truly important to me.

Your favorite motto

“La di da, la di da” – Annie Hall