Cork Profile: Maximilian Le Cain, film director
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?
When I was eight or nine years old, I realised that not everyone wanted to make films. This was quite an astonishing revelation.
Tell us about your career progression to your role today:
Always movie mad, I began making art house type films with friends on the family camcorder as a teenager. As I grew older, my work became increasingly experimental and personal. In parallel with this, I made a bit of a reputation as a writer on film and started programming mainly experimental film events with festivals and independently. Offbeat as my work was, I fell in with likeminded artists as part of a group (and later a company) called Experimental Film Society that was founded and driven by filmmaker Rouzbeh Rashidi. It produced and promoted mainly Irish-made experimental film globally and played a pivotal role in developing experimental cinema here. Sometimes working with no budgets but increasingly with the generous support of the Arts Council, my projects became more ambitious and recognised. Over the past year I completed a feature called ‘Solitaire’ and held the position of 2023 Arts Council/UCC Film Artist in Residence. I’m currently working on a new film in collaboration with my partner Shelly Kamiel called ‘Now & Forever’. It’s an experimental mockumentary with elements of both science fiction and film essay that looks at the subject of marriage from a new and wild perspective.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?
The thrill of putting images and sounds together in editing and observing the mystery of the way they cohere and grow into something that’s more than the sum of their parts. Taking elements of the real world and using them to create a parallel universe is like dreaming. It’s always a mystery.
What motivates you?
There isn’t a single answer to this question and the answers change over time but what’s been driving me recently is the responsibility of being an example to other filmmakers to dare everything in their work. To be as freely creative as they can and not to wait for permission to follow their visions as far as they go.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
Get over it! (Whatever it might be…)
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?
I suspect something to do with food – I love food and am starting to get more interested in it as I get older.
What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?
Persevering – keeping on making the work I feel compelled to make regardless of circumstances. And discovering that this is not simply a self-indulgent mania but something audiences can really respond to in ways that are different from their responses to more mainstream films.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
Over time, the peers and colleagues I’ve encountered in my life who make work in a parallel vein to mine. My friends in cinema who also persevere and create the impossible.
What is the life dream now?
Moving on to bigger, hopefully more crossover projects and reaching wider audiences.
How do you switch off?
What is your favourite Cork memory?
I’ve lived in Cork city my whole adult life and before that I spent my adolescence in Cork county so most memories are Cork memories.
What is your favourite place in Cork?
St Joseph’s Cemetery in Ballyphehane. Peace and atmosphere, good to wander in and dream.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
“I make films for ghosts and dead people” – Leos Carax
When are you at your happiest?
With good films, friends, food, music, creating, observing, sleeping…it’s quite easy to make me happy.
What is your hidden talent?
I enjoy washing dishes.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
Again, I enjoy washing dishes.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
My most recent feature, 'Solitaire', is having its premiere at Cork International Film Festival on 16 November. It’s a ghost story that explores family, home, identity, and gender. Like many of my films, it takes a wordless, visually poetic approach to its story. I can’t wait to watch it on a big screen with an audience and get some reactions.