Harmony Korine teased upcoming Venice premiere “Aggro Dr1ft” in Locarno, where he picked up the Pardo d’onore Manor award for outstanding achievement in cinema.
“I am excited. I have never made anything like it. I was trying not to make a movie. I don’t know if it will be a scandal, but it will be its own statement,” he said.
“Aggro Dr1ft” stars Spain’s Jordi Molla and Travis Scott. Korine has already worked with Scott on “Circus Maximus” – as well as his friend Gaspar Noé, surprise guest at the fest, who ended up co-moderating his Saturday masterclass.
“It was pretty wild. It was crazy!,” said Korine about the “last-minute” collab with Scott, also opening up about his humble beginnings.
“I grew up in Nashville, I was born into a commune. My dad made strange documentaries about Southern moonshiners and circus people, and then he sold some weed.”
Impressed by “Police Academy,” “Porky’s,” “Smokey and the Bandit” or “The Outsiders,” he quickly started to make his own films.
“I wasn’t a particularly good student. I would sleep a lot during classes. Once, a teacher screamed out my name and I thought she was going to hit me, but she said: ‘Whoever wrote that, it’s good.’ I went: ‘What?!’ I never got any encouragement at all.”
He turned it into a movie – “It still exists. It was about a violent Buddhist” – later teaming up with Larry Clark on “Kids.”
“I never wrote a script before. I thought: ‘A week seems good [to finish it]. I was living at my grandma’s house and she was a terrible cook: her food tasted like shoe leather, but it kept me going.”
Noé added: “It was the most scandalous movie of that year in Cannes. They played it in the afternoon because it was too shocking to play at night.”
While he later reunited with Clark on “Ken Park,” Korine has never seen it. But it was 1997 “Gummo” that marked his directorial debut.
“I would put actors and non-actors in a room together, give them different directions, and then: ‘Go!’ They were getting more and more drunk, talking to the chair as if it was real. My friend, skateboarder Mark Gonzales, started to fight the chair. The chair won a few times. I would lock all the doors so that the producers couldn’t stop it, and I would just hear things breaking and smashing.”
And as for these animal cruelty accusations?
“I just never liked cats.”
Still, “Gummo” earned praise from Werner Herzog, who called Korine “the last foot soldier in the army” after the screening. Later, he acted in his films.
“The only thing Werner had in his apartment was a photo of him when he was 3, 4 years old wearing a trash bag. He’s still a good friend,” recalled Korine. But following “Julien Donkey-Boy,” he took a few years off until 2007 “Mister Lonely.”
“A ‘burnout’? I was fucked up, man. I was completely wrecked. Mentally exhausted, chemically unbalanced. I had to go away for a while,” he admitted.
“I just thought there was something hilarious about a Michael Jackson impersonator. About a whole community of people that can just pick and choose their own identity. What if Jackson, Monroe and Chaplin all lived together in the middle of nowhere, killing sheep? It’s a strange movie but it came from dreams and dreaming.”
With “Trash Humpers,” he went one step further.
“It was supposed to be a film you find buried in a ditch, in the guts of a dead horse. As for distribution, we wanted to send it out to police stations. I actually lived by an old persons’ home, there were all these old perverts, staring into people’s windows,” he said, calling it “a celebration of vandalism.”
“The editor we worked with was 95% blind. That’s why it feels like that. It was really great, with everyone just walking around, destroying shit.”
“America is really a free country,” deadpanned Noé.
Korine also opened up about his hit “Spring Breakers.”
“In the U.S., it’s a rite of passage. I just started thinking about girls in bikinis robbing tourists, I don’t know where it came from. Robbing fat people on the beach. At first, I went to Daytona, but there were just lesbian bikers. So I moved to Pensacola and wrote it in a hotel, with kids puking in the hallway. It was good. I was inspired.”
But don’t count on a sequel.
“I have heard [these rumors] too. I hope it never happens. It’s one and done,” he promised.
But things got delirious once the audience was allowed to ask questions.
“Why are there no dicks in [‘Spring Breakers’]?! Make your own movie with your own dick,” he shut down a fan, while also sharing important advice.
“Never work with an alcoholic cinematographer. Trust me on that.”