Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, makes his feature directorial debut with Antiviral in Un Certain Regard, about a man who sells celebrity diseases to the obsessed public. TF1 handles sales.
Why did this theme of a celebrity-obsessed culture inspire you to write this story?
I’m interested in discussing certain common aspects of our culture by caricaturing them just enough to counteract our habituation. In the case of celebrity, I think that world is fascinating, both because of how grotesque it can be and how much it’s really just one version of a much broader human impulse to deify and eviscerate.
The film’s themes sound similar to some of your father’s work. And obviously he has a film in Cannes this year too [Cosmopolis]. Do you think there will be too much comparison with his work, or do you think his films are a direct inspiration for you?
I don’t think either are true. It’s possible there are some legitimate comparisons to be made but I’m really just doing what I find interesting, and if there is any thematic overlap with my father’s work it’s to be expected, given that we share genes and he helped raise me. I don’t really have enough distance from his films to be inspired by them in the way that people usually mean by that.
Sarah Gadon seems to be a very in-demand rising actress. What appealed to you to cast her?
We needed someone both believable as a deified superstar and talented enough to be completely convincing as a human being during glimpses behind the surface of the icon. Sarah has an enthralling screen quality that makes it possible to buy her as a huge celebrity, and she’s also an incredibly skilled actor.
How does it feel to have your debut feature land in Cannes?
It’s beyond thrilling.
Will what you are working on next be something similar to Antiviral?
I have a few projects I’m working on at the moment, which are different from Antiviral but maybe not completely unrelated.