Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret • Instructors of Les Pires

– CANNES 2022: The duo of filmmakers decipher the apparatus for their first feature film for children and their work with young people

(© Eric Dumont)

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interview : Lise Akoka et Romane Gueret
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the first feature film by French women Lise Akoka and Roman Gueret was unveiled at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard.

Cineuropa: Where did the idea of ​​filming a movie and with non-professionals come from?
Roman Gueret: With Lise, we met seven years ago on the casting of a movie. Lise was the casting director and I was the trainee. We went to meet children in the Nordics, in the mine pool, and we got the idea to make a short film that questions the practice of wild casting. this short, royal hunting was selected for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. We were passionate about talking about what we know, and pretty soon we would be tackling the topic of making a movie, telling the story of a recording.

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The young protagonists come from difficult neighborhoods, and the film in the film insists on this aspect. Why were you sensitive to this?
Lisa Akoka: We’ve done a lot of wild casting and coaching of kids for movies, often going to working-class neighborhoods to find them. We were already in this question about the responsibility it is to look for children who did not ask for something, who do not particularly want to be an actor, and who develop in spheres very far from the world of cinema. What limits must not be exceeded? Are you also wondering about this recurring fascination of auteur cinema for kids from neighborhoods, and wondering where it comes from? And give voice to these children as they remain in our place as adults from more privileged backgrounds in big cities. It was not just a matter of telling them by claiming to have an exhaustive account of what they are and how they feel, but above all of talking about the meeting of these two worlds, which many things counteract (age, as it is about adults and children) and the social origin): to wonder if a real meeting was possible and what it entailed.

How did you find the balance between the purely cinematic part and their lives as young people outside, in particular the view their neighborhood has of their new status?
RG: Through the work on the manuscript, which was long. We did not just want to tell the story of a shot. What interested us most was making a child-level film, in their own emotions. Although there are a few adult characters, they are in the background. There is therefore a first layer quite close to the children, to what they experience on the set and outside the set (with what it entails in the neighborhood, in their families, with their friends, the issue of reputation in a small neighborhood) and these few movie scenes , who allowed us each time to tell something very specific about mise an abyme and their relationship. But it was also a lot of cutting work, and the film was really rewritten at that time.

Did you improvise with the kids on the set, as the film director sometimes does in the film?
DER: Reasonably little. The script was written based on rather long improvisation sessions and meetings with many children, which inspired us to give ourselves the story lines and create the characters. But we arrived at the set with a very well written script. We have also worked for a long time with the children to get them to learn their texts. We then directed them via headsets, through which we gave them playing instructions and texts. We stuck to the written text, and after making all the footage that suited us, we often took more freedom for the final footage by trying to create surprise, the unexpected.

You carefully avoid the manicism of the look one might have on these kids who started filming for a movie. For some, it hurts the image of the neighborhood, for others it’s a chance for them.
DER: We did not want to give a completely optimistic or completely defiant answer to this question, but rather ask ourselves how the cinema can influence each of its children. Because if there is not a generic child, it operates some whose lives it will change, others will even find a job, a calling. The scene with the neighborhood educators shows a divergence in interests, but we wanted to embrace all views. What art seeks is not the same as the social world seeks, but both have value and must exist.

RM: We hope this can open horizons, even if it is only a small rock at a time, for a lifetime. But it would at least have had the benefit of existing.

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