Nisimazine MONDAY 17 MAY 2010
A Magazine by Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young CinemA
Cast of Little Baby Jesus of Flandr, left to right: Paul Mertens, Peter Janssens and Jelle Palmaerts, photo by Vincent Bitaud
Les Amours Imaginaires Gust Van den Berghe Cam Archer
Monday 17 May 2010/# 3 A magazine published by the NISI MASA in the framework of a film journalism workshop
for young Europeans with the support of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme of the EU
by Olivier Croughs
EDITORIAL STAFF Director of Publication Matthieu Darras Editors-in-Chief Maartje Alders
Jude Lister gh, Saturday was a bloody day. A murderous tyre carried away by Quentin Dupieux set the Critics’ Week under pressure, as a huge crowd was refused entry. Believe it or not, there is something to be experienced beside the ‘Bunker’ that might make a bigger mark on cinema history than the official competitors. So please, don’t miss a chance to be a part of it before hearing about these jewels from your Joe Bloggs neighbour’s mouth!
Layout Maartje Alders Contributors to this issue
Maximilien Van Aertryck, Vincent Bitaud Olivier Croughs, Maria Diceanu Andreea Dobre, Cristina Grosan Romain Pichon-Sintes, Damien Rayuela Miruna Vasilescu, Laurie Zaffarana Coordinators Joanna Gallardo
Marion Perrin NISI MASA 99 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010, Paris, France. Phone: +33 (0)9 60 39 63 38 in Cannes: +33 (0) 6 32 61 70 26 email@example.com www.nisimasa.com
picture of the day
BY DAMIEN RAYUELA
And yes, one might say we can enjoy some really particular stories taking place in these theatres. Friday was very special for anyone still waiting for the comeback of Jesus Christ. Gust Van den Berghe made it happen in the Directors’ Fortnight with his already acclaimed Little Baby Jesus of Flandr. The Staff Benda Bilili didn’t wait for such an event to make a miracle of their lives. Earlier on, the paraplegic members of the orchestra had already made a hell of a noise with their story at the Fortnight’s opening. As if this wasn’t enou-
Several kinds of festivals coexist in Cannes, and the Palais is certainly not the only place to be watched over. This is actually very good news for those who come for the love of cinema without any press or professional accreditation. Far away from the glittering steps we can enjoy experimental shorts, first features and amazing documentaries. The works that are not especially well-covered by regular medias, yet usually deserve more attention than money-spinning blockbusters.
© Machete Producciones
film of the day Año Bisiesto
Michael Rowe (Mexico) – Directors’ Fortnight
A RISKY GAME OF SALVATION The domestic realm is a wild space. A land of extremes where boredom, loneliness and despair make you crave the slightest excitement. The connection with the outside world is thin: glances across to the neighbours’ window, phone conversations, the glowing TV screen, the barren desert of the internet, and, sometimes, the interruption of a stranger; a lover with no name fleeing right after sex. Dreaming, loving, crying, and just letting it all go – here is the life of Laura, the central character of Año Bisiesto (Leap Year). The film delves us into the life of this sweet and unobtrusive woman adrift in Mexico City. The first forty minutes set in motion a terrible machine: a day to day routine
with no obvious exit. There are no camera moves in this story and the shots are long. The flowing of time itself seems to be out of order. We wonder, as Laura does: when is something different going to happen? The slow pace absorbs us into an everlasting expectation. Days pass as she crosses them out on her calendar, waiting for a mysterious X-marked day at the end of the month. Michael Rowe is from Australia but lives in Mexico, and he shot with a local crew. For his first feature as a director, the necessities of production pushed him towards a choice that, in the end, is the strength of the film. Except for the opening scene, in a supermarket (a setting that plants the idea of consumption and seals Laura’s fate as an object used by men), everything takes place in the apartment of our heroine. As Rowe says, “houses are a metaphor for the psyche. This film explores the deepest recesses of Laura’s mind”. Indeed, it is a full intimacy that binds us to our protagonist: whether masturbating, shaving between her legs, or cleaning herself after sex; the intrusive camera adds a deeper level to our understanding.
Terminus: sex How to break the pattern of isolation? Sex seems the answer, but for Laura it is too short, too quick, too hypocritical and, eventually, not enough. When she meets Arturo, a somehow different lover, she finds excitement through pain and humiliation during sexual intercourse. She wants more each time; the tension increases until the very end of the film. Maybe here lies the remedy to loneliness: extreme experience. The ultimate sensation, the most ambiguous and thrilling – death – comes onto the horizon. And the more you seek pleasure, the more you move towards the edge. Here sex - as drugs or violence elsewhere - is a dangerous game, shamelessly played indoors. A game for salvation that no one can judge. By Romain Pichon-Sintes
Les Amours Imaginaires
Xavier Dolan (Canada) - Un Certain Regard
It’s not the story that makes the film, but Dolan’s highly emotional and colourful approach
to a trivial day-to-day situation: a young love triangle wherein the only one who is actually loved is a pseudo-homosexual, pseudo-womanizer Adonis. This desired one makes the other two - a romantic guy looking for a soul mate and a cynical, quite obsessive girl - fall madly in love then become hopelessly depressed. Feeding this simple outline are
all of Xavier’s old-fashioned but, oh-so-tasty and joyful details. The slowing-down in the right moments, the way he frames faces and naked bodies, and his choice of soundtrack will surely get all young hearts beating faster (attention! I said hearts). By Miruna Vasilescu © Mifili Films
Xavier Dolan is wonderful. Yes, he is, no matter what some may think about his arty tricks, poetic choices and vintage slow-motion interludes. He is young and fresh and puts it all out here: love’s clichés and the heart’s pains decomposed and recomposed into an impressively shot, extroverted piece of cinema. Les Amours Imaginaires (aka Heartbeats) is Dolan’s second feature, and it succeeds in bringing onscreen the same dose of irony and emotion as his début film, J’ai tué ma mere. Only this time, there’s no gapbetween-generations study; only loneliness and a huge empty space to be filled with hope, panic, and finally, desperation.
Unter dir die Stadt
Christoph HochhĂ¤usler (Germany) - Un Certain Regard â€œCan I get a smile?â€? asks the photographer during a shoot with the grey-suited, stiff-faced â€˜Banker of the Yearâ€™. The only smile we get is, however, in a group photo of a few employees. Unter dir die Stadt (The City Below) is the third feature by German director Christoph HochhĂ¤usler, competing in the Un Certain Regard section. In this shiny cold habitat where a tie is part of the uniform, Svenja is a drop of colour. After moving to Frankfurt for her husbandâ€™s new job in a major bank, she doesnâ€™t even try to fit into his corporate-artsy social circle. A random encounter and a duel of glances later: the manager, Roland, becomes attracted to her. Her initial refusal is no permanent decision as Olli, her loving but conformist husband, gets
transferred into oblivion; in the Indonesian branch about to be closed, he is both in danger and out of the picture. For Roland, itâ€™s obvious how a taste of young flesh can eclipse rational business, but what makes a young, playful woman like Svenja fall into the arms of a dull old man whose best line is: â€œI want to sleep with youâ€?? His power works hand in hand with her loneliness and boredom. However, this is neitherâ€™s story. Strategic games in the corporate world delve into globalisation, as the love-affair drama mixes with a subplot. Unter die die Stadt is not what it seems, with its intricate perspectives. But in the end weâ€™re actually not so sure of what we are looking at. By Andreea Dobre
Un Poison Violent
Katell QuillĂŠvĂŠrĂŠ (France) â€“ Directorsâ€™ Fortnight In the Catholic tradition, the Confirmation comes along with adolescence; the culmination of the education. Anna is 14 years old, an age at which religion and therefore faith - becomes really understandable. In her debut feature, Katell QuillĂŠvĂŠrĂŠ shows us the path of a girl who is prone to questioning these issues. She finds herself caught between her mother, a practicing Catholic, and her father, apparently an atheist, who has left for another woman when Anna returns from boarding school for the holidays. So she becomes closer to her sick grandfather, who hates religion. Despite this, Anna does not let herself be influenced by the choices of those around her and tries throughout the film to form her own opinions. In this
way Catholicism is portrayed in relation to the ideological perspectives of the characters. This allows the director to discuss all existing points of view.
Furthermore, she falls in love with a boy. In a delicate and natural scene between the two adolescents, Anna discovers her body. Besides, the young actors Clara Augarde and Youen Leboulanger-Gourvil deliver particularly touching and true performances. By Laurie Zaffarana
Binger Filmlab presents our upcoming labs in Amsterdam
Directors Lab 2011 application Sept 15, 2010
Writers Lab & Creative Producers Lab 2011 application March 15, 2011
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Director of Shit Year - Directors’ Fortnight
PHOTO BY CRISTINA GROSAN
Shit Year is Cam Archer’s second feature, following a well received Wild Tigers I have Known. The film focuses on the identity crisis of a retired actress, played by Ellen Barkin, who is no longer able to detect her true self among the reminiscences of the past roles. Let’s start with the beginning of your film. Who is Anita Zimmerman, the person you’re dedicating your film to? Well, she was my aunt. She died ten years ago. I guess that when I’m finishing a project, I always like to think of people that meant something for me, or influenced me in the past. I am a bit cautious though, not to pick people that would raise too many questions. In your last film you’re dealing with the problems of a retiring actress. Is it fair to consider that your two previous short documentaries dedicated to the actors Jonathan Brandis and River Phoenix, who both committed suicide at a young age, prepared the grounds for Shit Year? You can look at things like that, but I think most of my work so far somehow contributed to this last film. I can’t think of approaching subjects that I have no interest in or no connection with, so all the movies that I’ve made until now are somehow
about me. Before Shit Year I was going through a stage of feeling depressed and isolated so then I realized I wanted to say something about what I was experiencing. I thought I could make a character out of these feelings. And then it’s great to have actors to sort of take things in and give them a shape, make them longer and recognizable. But the initial emotions always come from me. Talking about actors, as far as I understood, you were considering Sissy Spacek for the role of Coleen? I’ve seen this piece of information myself circulating on the internet. With Sissy Spacek it was actually another project, about a woman suffering from Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. We were supposed to do that film before Shit Year but instead, we got money for this one. So for Shit Year I actually had Ellen Barkin in mind. You deal with so many different times and spaces that mix together. Can you tell us something about creating this universe during the editing process? I wrote the film out of order because only certain scenes would occur to me at a time. There was a disordered chaos in the writing process, which lead to another chaos in the shooting trying to make sense out of the first one, and of course, a bigger one at editing. It was never a conscious disorder though. It was just happening and then I was trying to make sense out of it. I’m more interested with playing with time, order and memory in my own life. I don’t have a straight forward time
to take on in my experience. I always go back and forth between the present and the past because it’s like I’m unable to let go of the past. And this inability creates the disorder. In your projects you always have a special connection with music… There were definitely some scenes that demanded certain sounds. But all the sound, sound design elements and music had to fit naturally in this chaos. I love music and I think I listen to it more than I watch films. Usually for my films I use soundtrack songs that I am close to. For Shit Year, most of the songs come from bands of my friends. The film was already so personal throughout every other stage, that it made more sense to me to choose this type of music, and then place it in the background. I like it to give a unitary feeling. Is there any connection between Shit Year and Bergman’s Persona? Definitely! I was kind of hoping people would pick that up. Shit Year is like putting on a record and getting more of it with each additional playing. I’m not saying you should necessarily watch the film again, but I do hope that something from the film or a certain connection will occur to you also later. I think that’s the general case with art: we want you to be thinking about it even after you’ve already experienced it! By Maria Diceanu
A walk down Wall Street
The 80s were an era of crazy, breathless development. Those were the days of excess and Stone succeeds in sketching the basics: a young broker hoping for a better life makes all the possible mistakes along the way on his greedy journey towards fame and money. How could he not, when all he sees seems to be an unreachable paradise. When you’re a small fish and want to be the biggest, you can be tempted to skip some steps by cheating. Otherwise you’ll end up just another nobody. Of course, just like in Hollywood, the little man realizes he went too far but it’s too late and he gets locked up. But money never sleeps! And the world won’t change so
from Cleveland vs Wall Street © Les Films Pelléas.
And when we say “rule the world”, we often think of the United States of America, with Wall Street as its headquarters. It feels like money was invented on that street, through some weird and inaccessible chemical formula. So this is all a regular non-American and non-money maker understands about Wall Street.
young, blonde Michael Douglas with his perfect smile, perfect suits and perfect retorts twisted and turned an even younger and rather naïve Charlie Sheen. He made the world go round, and wrong. Back then, the I-know-itall lectures and invincible orders he gave built up the charisma of the entire film.
But, then, that’s what we have Oliver Stone for. His glamorous approach to the “Money Area” back in ’87 stirred a worldwide interest for the art of making money. A
easily. In 2009, brokers, banks and working men witnessed an economic breakdown. One needs genius and power to get on top of a universal crisis. Or…money.
It usually solves everything. So Stone’s 2010 sequel goes even more Hollywood and tells a story of love and betrayal that has a happy ending, just to wrap it all
eventually run out of funds again, and out of houses since they can’t pay the mortgage. It’s the rule of the game and they know it from the very beginning. Wall Street
up in an optimistic tone. However, in this world, Stone himself taught us there’s neither mercy nor principles, so how could the immoral, fearless Gordon Geko become all mushy and turn into a good angel? Stone is kind and takes care of his depressed spectators. The last thing we would need is for cinema to show us that there’s really no way out and money is still what makes the world go round.
bankers are only instruments of the devil, but are they guilty for desperate humans being tempted? It’s a David versus Goliath fight. There’s no good or bad. There’s only weak or strong. And since everybody wants to be on the right side of the Wall, cinema knows how to makes good use of this weakness and wrap it up nicely.
Then again, that’s why we’ve got Cleveland vs. Wall Street in the Directors’ Fortnight. The film stages a trial that should have taken place: the poor people of Cleveland, who got kicked out of their homes, sue the rich banks on Wall Street for their inhumane behaviour. Oh, poor people of Cleveland! If we were to sum up your story in a couple of words, Wall Street wouldn’t be the devil. Money ruling over people would be. For once people run out of money, they take impressive yet risky offers from the banks. They
By Miruna Vasilescu
from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps © TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
It’s only natural that people still make films about Wall Street. After all, we’re stuck in a huge economic crisis that us mortals don’t know much about, but still feel the chills down our spines when experts pronounce the word: CRISIS. So then, right now money is the right subject for everything, especially for Hollywood. Powerful men in suits, tough dialogues and evil geniuses, limos, pretty girls, luxurious houses, caviar and yes, champagne. We know all about it and absolutely can’t help getting to know some more. Boring business talks we don’t quite understand and oversized egos that increase tensions make us part of the power game between those who rule the world.
PHOTO BY VINCENT BITAUD
Little Awesome Genius of Flandr
Gust VAN DEN BERGHE
Director of Little Baby Jesus of Flandr (Belgium) - Directors’ Fortnight
It’s because his friend Felix van Groeningen - one of last year’s revelations in Cannes - handed the DVD to the artistic director of the Director’s Fortnight that Gust Van den Berghe is sitting here today. He’s certainly enjoying the Cannes playground, seeming able to live in the moment without losing his balance. During our encounter he let out his flow of thoughts on multiple subjects: art, faith, breakdancing, his mother, how to capture time, and the experience of directing actors with Down’s syndrome. Watching his first feature and graduation project Little Baby Jesus of Flandr, I witnessed an emotionally loaded moment. The film could leave you cold, with its beautiful old black and white cinemascope and sleepy rhythm. But when the standing ovation started to get long, and the cast broke out in tears of joy, I knew I couldn’t wait for this baby to grow and become a man. When I ask if his mother was at the screening he affirms, drawing two vertical lines under his eyes. We exchange some thoughts on how it’s possible to
thank one’s parents for the faith and trust they put in us, and he tells me that the film was a first attempt. It wasn’t an easy process though: "The school hated the idea. But the more they said that the more I knew I was onto something", says the Belgian director. Van den Berghe arrived in cinema through a logical and yet abstract path. Starting to express himself by breakdancing, «because it feels like hanging between heaven and earth», he then experimented in DJ-ing and got some serious theatre experience, finally following the intuition of his mother to apply to film school. Blessed with a natural artistic vein, he has something to say in many different ways – or just one all of his own. Why choose three main actors who “suffer" from Down’s syndrome? The answer is neither simple provocation nor a freak show: "The most difficult thing in filmmaking is the capturing of time", states the filmmaker. So the protagonists, Jelle, Paul and Peter, aren’t just playing a role. In fact they are probably rather, and this may sound
paradoxical, being and acting at the same time. "They didn’t know there was a script and they still don’t know the title of the film… I’m jealous of this", admits Van den Berghe with pure sincerity. Imagine a set on which nobody has much previous experience, and the actors are handicapped. This wild nightmare of the average American producer is what the director and his cast will certainly remember as a life lesson for many years to come. "Gust is my best buddy", his actors told me in harmony just before. "They were often sad, one of them was missing his mom or had a nightmare. We had to talk about it before we could shoot", explains the cineaste, who is only 24 but sounds like he’s talking about his own son. "They can teach us so much", he adds. Beginning to understand, I nod in silence. This upcoming director’s work has a clear humanistic aspect, but also a distinct visual style. Frame by frame, the film installs a sort of aesthetical cocoon, seasoned with an erratic symbolism that the person sat next to you in the cinema su-
rely won’t interpret the way you did. Little Baby Jesus of Flandr tackles faith. This wind we feel but do not see blows somewhere between piety and spirituality; in any case it is the fundamental basis of life. His cinematography illustrates just that, from the opening sequence. In Apocalypse Now, the peaceful tropical jungle literally exploded in napalm horror. In this film, the trees are too singular and unique to see them as a coherent forest, and each one of them is scraping the sky, as if we should call nature "Gaia" more often. The same goes with the actors. Through the rhythm they set, and the caricatures they embody, we take the time to understand and contemplate the world at their pace. Quite a contrast to the hectic masses, noise and flashing lights I fought against on my way to the Belgian terrace here in Cannes. "You can start today if you want to", says the filmmaker. If you’re reading this, Gust, let’s have a beer soon. by Maximilien Van Aertryck