Culture & Arts

Monaco and the Grand Prix: new documentary about the race

Monaco and the Grand Prix are inseparable!

The Austrian Hannes M. Schalle is preparing a documentary on the race. But, at the heart of it, he wants above all to speak of Monaco, of the country and its history, as he explains between two interviews.

Hannes M. Schalle is about to interview a sommelier, which is nothing surprising within the framework of a documentary. That is, except when the film deals with the Monaco Grand Prix. However, essentially this film will be about more than just the race. Schalle is interested in human beings. And for him talking about the Grand Prix means talking about the Principality. So, he goes out and meets local people: a fisherman, a concierge from a large hotel, a gardener, etc. “We discuss the Grand Prix, the Principality…and they tell me what makes Monaco,” he says. This is what he needs in order to create “a film that will not age, that will tell the history of Monaco and of the race.”

Halfway through filming

For his film, the Grand Prix serves as a frame, explains Schalle, sipping his Coke Zero on a terrace facing the port. His true subject is the history of the Principality ever since race cars began flying through the city in 1929. Or, “how Monaco has evolved since the first Grand Prix,” he rephrases, raising his sunglasses. In any case, he did not really have a choice. “Monaco and the Grand Prix are inseparable,” he says. And he did not wish to make a film solely about Formula 1. “If you make a film on car racing, you are addressing a very restricted audience,” he says, “And the tracks have become boring. I am a bit cynical perhaps, but it has become very protected, the cars no longer make noise or smell of anything.” Schalle wishes to approach other aspects, all the things which make the Grand Prix more than a Grand Prix. “It’s a fact of society, a social occasion, a time to do business, a huge opportunity to expand one’s network,” he continues, “more so than at any other Grand Prix.”

Hannes M. Schalle
Hannes M. Schalle is preparing a documentary on Monaco and The Grand

The idea had been on his mind for a while and everything started about two years ago, after having written a script about the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. He had also written a film on the second, Lauda: The Untold Story and then another one devoted to the Nürburgring track, The Green Hell, whose release is scheduled for next February. “And then reporters said: ‘Why don’t you make a series of movies?’ I replied I would think about it. I discussed with many people involved in car racing and they said they would provide me with contacts, pictures. So I started my series of documentaries on car racing. For me, Monaco was the first film to be made, because it is the most unique track in the world. Next year, it will be Silverstone, England.

Meanwhile, Hannes M. Schalle considers himself to be at the “halfway” point of shooting, which started 8th of May and must end with the next Grand Prix. He hoped to present it at Sportel 2017. The “World Sports Marketing and Media Convention” in Monaco is due to take place in October. In other words: the film has not yet been released, but the director already knows how it will begin: with scenes shot at dawn, “when Monaco is waking up,” and putting a clear spotlight on the city. One cannot imagine Schalle’s documentary starting any other way.


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