By Nicolas Campitelli
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From the Lasséenne campaign to previews of Parisian cinemas. This Wednesday, April 27, 2022in 80 cinemas across the country, was released Sentinel Souththe first feature film of Mathieu Geraultdirector of Mayenne origin.
Among these rooms are vote, to Mayenne, to the filmmaker’s greatest satisfaction. “I’m very happy to be able to do this national excursion in Mayenne,” appreciates the former student from Lavoisier Gymnasiumwhich maintains a privileged connection with its Northern Mayenne resident. “I return to it regularly, I introduced it to my wife and my children.”
Sentinel south is a fiction at the crossroads of genres: film noir, social chronicle, “brothers” film … The day after a secret operation that decimated his unit, soldier Christian Lafayette (Niels Schneider) is back in France.
As he tries to resume a normal life, he quickly becomes involved in the opium trade to save his two surviving brothers in arms.
“I have always been interested in violence and fragility, the desire for love. I also like American thrillers from the 1940s.
Staging soldiers in their difficult return to civilian life allows him to connect this aesthetic with his favorite theme: brotherhood.
“When I was young, I was separated from my brothers, forced to leave the northern Mayenne countryside and its agricultural challenges to find myself in a building in Saint-Nicolas. For me, it was Brooklyn.”
Mathieu Gérault put a bit of himself into all his characters: Christian, nicknamed “the farmer”, is a nod to his childhood in the bocage.
Mounir (Sofian Khammes) could have been one of the children who populated his new environment, “weak, plagued by integration problems, he is nicknamed” the historian “because he seeks to understand France from a political point of view”.
“A subject that has been little discussed in France”
With this theme, Sentinel South is part of a legacy: the one from post-Vietnam War films Enjoy Hollywoodas A dog’s afternoonof Sidney Lumet. “It is a topic that is rarely addressed in France. I wanted to do that by responding to the issues of the genre, but with an intimate look that is specific to European film. »
To embody his two main characters, he addresses two actors who all seem to oppose.
Niels Schneider was seen among others Xavier Dolan. ‘Pretty romantic, he must have taken on and looked very down to earth. On the day of the casting, he had put on two large woolen sweaters to give himself a peasant side, ”says Mathieu Gérault.
As for Sofian Khammes, the director spotted him in Choufof Karim Dridilooked in The world is yoursof Romain Gavras. Two actors with “very different methods” that could satisfy the director’s “urge for a duo”.
To write his manuscript, Mathieu Gérault did not meet a veteran. “I had a desire for fiction. Instead, he explored the “periphery” of the subject:
“I talked to caregivers from the French Army’s psychological cell. I watched documentaries that I showed to the actors and read a lot.”
This first feature film, Mathieu Gérault, carried it for “seven or eight years”. Before that, he was nurtured by the movies he discovered during his economics studies, at reindeerin the early 90s, then from his small jobs in Paris. “I was the first in the family to study. I discovered art at that time. »
Self-taught, he directed his first short film, Tall grassin 2001, awarded by Cannes Director’s Fortnight. Sentinel South won him the audience award at Bergamo and, for the two main actors, the award for best actor at Saint Jean de Luz.
An upcoming film in the 80s bocage
Monday, April 25, 2022, he presented the film in a preview in a large Parisian cinema. The market’s “catastrophic” situation does not scare him. “The film no longer belongs to me. »
Mathieu Gérault is already thinking about her next project, “still in the fetal stage”, but already very personal: “I want to explore the bocage of the 80s and 90s. Like with a female character this time.” With a shot in Northern Mayenne ? Not impossible: “We are always overtaken by where we come from. »
Convenient: Sentinelle Sud is programmed in the Le Vox cinema in Mayenne. Sunday, May 1 at 2pm screening presented by the instructor.
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