José Bové and Bouli Lanners reveal the underbelly of the European Parliament in their new film

Bouli Lanners, you play the role of the MEP, José Bové. The film “A Matter of Principle” tells the story of the fight you led against the European Commission and the Union’s anti-corruption body. José Bové, in what way are you associated with this film?

José Bové: It’s very simple, it was the French director and producer, Robert Guédiguian, who called me to tell me that Antoine Rimbault, a young director, wanted to meet me to talk about adapting a chapter from the book. “Hold-up in Brussels”. And that’s how it all started. We met with his co-writer. And after two or three days at home, we realized that we were really on the same airwaves and that this chapter in his hands was going to make a magnificent film.

Bouli Lanners, when you are offered this role in this film, what do you say?

Bouli Lanners: I say yes straight away, because already, playing Bové, for me, is something that I won’t be offered very often. He is a person that I admire and love very much. And then a political thriller that takes place within European bodies is something that we don’t see often, practically never, while the Americans often put our institutions in quite a spotlight. Ultimately, we know American institutions better than European institutions. So, for me, it’s interesting to be able to do it.

Bouli Lanners, do you also share the fight led by José Bové against the apparent lack of democracy in institutions?

Bouli Lanners: I didn’t know much about the European authorities and like many citizens, we are a little disinterested in what is happening in Europe. And the film made it possible to understand the functioning of the institutions with its three powers, but also to realize that Parliament is absolutely necessary since it is the only body which is truly transparent, unlike the Commission and the Council. And this democratic body functions, because in the story that José describes and that we portray in the film, it is this body which allows us to control what is opaque.

Has the opacity been fixed?

José Bové: We have some concerns with Qatargate and Russia. But since then, we have had a European prosecutor’s office which allows us to investigate this. The institutions work on a code of ethics common to the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. So little by little, things are moving. But for that, MPs must commit and act and voters must vote for the right MPs, for those who want Europe to be transparent, who want a democratic Europe. And so each citizen is now responsible.

You are talking about the next European elections, on June 9. How to motivate young people to vote?

José Bové: A lot of young people have become involved in the fight against global warming. However, we will not resolve the climate issue if we do not do it at European level, so this is the right level to move forward.

And I also want to tell young people that there really is a European culture today and that’s thanks to Erasmus and it’s quite extraordinary. We are changing the world, from this old world where everyone was withdrawn into their country. And today, young people through Erasmus, through the climate issue, they are moving the lines and bringing about a common European citizenship.

And for you Bouli Lanners, is it still important to vote for Europe?

Bouli Lanners: We still have a democratic tool that works and we must still remember that it is an important year in Belgium. This is a big turning point, because 70% of the laws that will be passed in Europe are the ones that will determine what will happen in local politics. So, we cannot only refer to regional, legislative and municipal elections, it is Europe first that is happening.

It’s the same thing for farmers, if the right deputies had been elected when the CAP could have been voted on at the time, farmers would not be in the streets today. So it’s really important to find out and be interested in what’s happening within Europe. And we must not miss these elections, we must go and vote.

The European Parliament knew that you were going to make a film on this offensive against the Commission. Did they open the doors for you easily? How did that happen ?

Bouli Lanners: It happened very simply. It was Antoine who could tell the story, but we were welcomed with open arms. They even made staff available to us both at the European Parliament in Brussels and in Strasbourg. They knew the scenario and they also needed to be able to show that Parliament was transparent.

José Bové: JI know the European Parliament, I stayed there for ten years and there is no reason for the Parliament to refuse and at the same time, it is surprising because it is the first time that a film has been shot in the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. This means that there is something moving at this level as well. And I hope that there will be plenty of other films that can be shown in the European Parliament. That would mean that it becomes a real subject of cinema and therefore a subject that must be shown.

rtl info with you José Bové Bouli Lanners cinema



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