The Italian master, serving as AFI Fest's guest artistic director, explains why he has returned to directing after nearly a decade.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: You're being treated to all sorts of awards. You got an Honorary Palme at Cannes in 2011, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive is showing a retrospective of your work through Nov. 4. Yet at 72. You've surprised everyone with your first film in nine years, Me and You, which screened at Cannes.
Bernardo Bertolucci: I had read Niccolo Ammaniti's book, but I hadn't decided to do it. But then I received the Palme d'Or award and there was a retrospective at the British Film Institute, and so when I sent [Cannes artistic director] Thierry Fremaux the film, I said: "Listen, the festival is responsible for this film. You put me back on the dance floor."
THR: The film revolves around a young boy (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) and his half-sister (Tea Falco). Some are comparing it to The Dreamers, which also dealt with young students.
Bertolucci: I don't think I'm a case of pedophilia, which is a word that nobody can use, but I feel good with young people. It's contagious.
THR: You like working with young actors?
Bertolucci: These two were very fresh, and they didn't have any kind of experience in acting. They haven't developed the mistakes of acting. The moment they had the camera in front of them,
they became actors.
THR: At one point you talked of making the movie in 3D but then decided against it. Why?
Bertolucci: Because I shoot quite fast. When I finish a shot, immediately I want to add the 3D. I'm sure that in three to four years everything will be faster and easier, and I will go back to that idea.
THR: 1970's The Conformist was recently released on Blu-ray. Do you concern yourself with how your films are preserved?
Bertolucci: I care more about the preservation of myself. I'm not young anymore. I want to do a new film immediately because there is so much joy in it.