Byre World blasts off with visit from ‘Aliens’ director

Film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet with the University's international writer in residence, Reif Larsen
Film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet with the University's international writer in residence, Reif Larsen

Renowned French film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, visited St Andrews on Wednesday to launch the University’s new cultural events programme.

The month-long ‘Byre World’ festival is being dedicated to Jeunet, famous for directing ‘Alien: Resurrection’, ‘Amélie’, ‘Delicatessen’ and ‘A Very Long Engagement’.

Jeunet already has a link to the University, having adapted the acclaimed debut novel by the University’s international writer in residence Reif Larsen – The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet – into the 2013 film ‘The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet’.

Commenting on his appearance at the film festival, Jeunet said: “It’s always a pleasure to speak with an audience because when you work on a film, you are working with your crew and you don’t have this kind of contact.”

Reif Larsen said: “I think the new Byre World series is a terrific way to connect the University of St Andrews to the wider world of contemporary international art, film, and literature. And the popularity of this ‘Month of Jeunet’ shows that students have a real interest in international cinema. It’s a great opportunity for students to watch a bunch of films and then meet the creator. “

Byre World was conceived by the University’s School of Modern Languages.

Running throughout the semester, with plans to continue into 2016, the programme, which is open to the public as well as students, includes foreign-language films, public conversations with international figures from cultural and creative industries, and informal literary cafes that provide a relaxed space for readings and conversation.

Next Wednesday (October 21) Larson will give a talk at Byre World, co-hosted by the Centre for Film Studies, on the experience of having his first novel adapted for the big screen by Jeunet.

He said: “I had always admired Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work. His sense of detail had worked his way into the DNA of my writing. So when he said he wanted to make my first book into a movie, you can imagine I was completely shocked. It was a real privilege to watch him work, to watch the project change as the adaption became its own being. I got to go on set a couple of times and even make a Hitchcock-like cameo.”