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Director Eva Ionesco and main actress Anamaria Vartolomei from My Little Princess, Photo by Damien Rayuela

Nisimazine MONDAY 16 MAY 2011

#4

Cannes

A Magazine by Nisi Masa, European Network Of Young CinemA

Eva Ionesco Alice Rohrwacher The kids are not all right


NISIMAZINE CANNES

Monday 16 May 2011/# 4 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

The perspective of catching an exceptional moment, whether outside or on the screen, is far too promising. And the compressed atmosphere of tension and enjoyment is

Contributors to this issue

infectious. Knowing that soon everything will change to the normal again, you try to seize each day. The crucial point is to inhale as much air of glitter and art as possible. To feel part of the whole. If Cannes might be an individual experience for each, depending on particular aims, interests and duties, in the end everybody is hoping for Cannes to leave traces out of the ordinary. Yet Cannes must not be like you expected. Films that sounded promising at first sight are proved disappointing and the other way round. Considering those facts requires looking over the edge of one’s own nose. In terms of movies it means taking the risk of not only going to the highly recommended screenings. There are still few more days to try your luck, to invest your energy, and to keep your eyes open.

Levente Czehelszki Matthieu Darras, Eva Kincsei Anne-Sophie Meusburger Elisabeth Renault - Geslin Miklós Vargha, Patrícia Veszpremi Coordinators Jass Seljamaa Merli Antsmaa Eva Ujlakyová, Jana Dandárová 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 europe@nisimasa.com www.nisimasa.com

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Today we reached halfway of the festival. Time to pause and reflect upon whether Cannes has so far lived up to our expectations. For those people who have attended the festival since the beginning, the overwhelming frenzy has already given way to an adjusted and well organized rhythm. Wake up early, sort out the program, rush to the screening and find a seat. You are probably by now used to plunge yourself into crowded areas to get a ticket for Tree of Life, to take a picture with Tilda Swinton, or to make acquaintance with leading film professionals. Obviously, there is not only a competition between the films.

by Anne-Sophie Meusburger (Austria)

BY MARTINA LANG (AUSTRIA)

Editorial

EDITORIAL STAFF Matthieu Darras Editor-in-Chief/Layout Maartje Alders Editor Jude Lister Tutor Paolo Bertolin

Director of Publication

picture of the day


© Ultime razzia productions

film of the day

Dimanches Valéry Rosier (Belgium) - Critics’ Week An old woman is lying in a bathtub, a man is waving from a pedestrian overpass towards the cars rushing by on the highway underneath, another woman is using her daylight lamp and a couple of people are attending a country dance club. Structured into short tableau-like sequences, Valéry Rosier´s short film Dimanches gives a rather depressing insight onto the activities several people dedicate to on a Sunday. The prolonged hours of the free day make the loneliness of the protagonists even more visible. Rather than demonstrating the possibility of recreation, Rosier is pointing out the gap that appears when having too much time that urgently needs to be fil-

led. By accumulating a number of scenes in which the protagonists stay anonymous and uncharacterized, Dimanches is giving a statement of a reserved and isolated society in a small Belgian town. People are on their own and if there is a sign of another person nearby, he or she are either not shown in the frame or they are not communicating with each other. Instead, meticulous diligence is being dedicated to material belongings. Rosier is combining a mixture of trivial, sad and sometimes even funny extracts. A man who stays in bed all Sunday might seem normal to some, but an old woman who collapses in her living room and is not able to rise all day adds a morbid hint to the movie’s progress. The style

Miss Bala

“Drugs are bad, m’kay?” Thus spoke the South Park character Mr. Mackey instead of Zarathustra, but luckily Gerardo Naranjo’s opinion about this topic is much more developed than that. His third feature Miss Bala portrays Mexico as a state controlled by its many drug lords, where anarchy and crime override law. Laura Guerrero, our heroine, if we can put it that way, is an everyday girl living a hopeless life in the country. Her only way of breaking out could be a beauty contest held in the city, but unfortunately her life is about to be interrupted by a mafia battle. After surviving that, she gets involved with the Mob, as the head of the drug trafficking gang set his eyes on her. She becomes a pawn in the many dirty ways of handling conflicts by the mafia, what

By Anne-Sophie Meusburger (Austria)

review © LOW SPARK FILMS

Gerardo Naranjo (Mexico) - Un Certain Regard

of Dimanches establishes and enforces the general melancholy in a virtuosic, elaborate way by presenting low lighted and stagnant images. But the striking force of Rosier´s movie comes from the precise arrangement of scenes. Dimanches sharpens the viewer´s attention by developing interferences of the independent segments, as their concurrency and connectivity reveals bit by bit. The smooth editing leads to a slow but highly meaningful rhythm, showing the senselessness and dullness of a small town’s life. Valéry Rosier with its discreet and homogeneous style brings a short movie potentiality to perfection.

eventually and inevitably leads to her fall. Miss Bala is acted perfectly, and supported by the outstanding cinematography of Mátyás Erdély. According to Gerardo Naranjo’s depiction, Mexico is the place where innocence and naivety are rewarded by getting involved in raping, murdering and intimidation.

There you have no control over your life at all. Sadly, the movie being extremely realistic, it precisely portrays the hopelessness of Mexico population. by Levente Czehelszki (Hungary)


© Franja Nomo

reviews Porfirio

Alejandro Landes (Colombia/Spain/Uruguay/ Argentina/France) - QR The plot outline of Porfirio, Alejandro Landes’ film premiering in Directors’ Fortnight, promises the story of a hijacker, a crippled victim of an ignorant society. Yet, what the Columbian filmmaker provides us with is the portrait of a restricted character, not only in the physical sense. Confined to a wheelchair, he lives a life of isolation disconnected from people. His home is not only empty of furniture, but also seems to lack compassion. Porfirio Ramírez seems a burden even to his own family. Imagine you had lost the ability to move, if sitting up, getting washed, or turning to the other side in bed had become an arduous action. Porfirio’s days elapse in emptiness, in complete immobility. The Columbian director presents his life without veils: the episodic structure is often filled with explicit naturalism. The many social implications at the background slowly and subtly emerge, while the everyday challenges of the protagonist make us face a different perspective on life. Porfirio is an intriguing mixture of feature film and documentary. The character of the protagonist emerged from news headlines, and the real Porfirio is playing in the dramatised version of his own life story. Landes’ point of view is impartial, yet revealing. He is strenuously observing the protagonist as he is denuding himself. The unbiased nature of his acting reveals the true Porfirio for us, and the plan of a violent escape evolves in front of our eyes. His final act may not break him out of his confinement, yet it resolves the tension that the film built up in us, almost unnoticed, and gives us a sense of relief. By Patrícia Veszprémi (Hungary)

Walk Away Renée

Jonathan Caouette (USA) - Critics’ Week

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Jonathan Caouette is a somewhat self-obsessed documentarist, who has been filming everything since the age of 11. After Tarnation, his first self-portrait film, Walk Away Renee focuses once again on his sick mother Renee. Renee is 58 and bipolar because of so many treatments undergone for nothing since her childhood. She contracted Parkinsons and after a Lithium overdose, her brain is damaged. The film begins when Jonathan has to move her to another medical centre and decides that they will cross the country together in a removal truck. The road documentary develops in parallel with flashbacks to videos and photographs from Jonathan’s youth and his mother’s. Caouette’s style is excessively selfcentred. If the mother’s sickness and behaviours can be moving at some points, the lack of naturalness and the director’s self mise en scène quickly tire the audience. To shoot

oneself crying in close-up doesn’t necessarily provoke empathy, and neither does shooting your sick mother, a happy smile on her face, in slow-motion. In the end, one question persists: what is his purpose? The visible fictionalisation of numerous sequences (even in the titles where his family’s names are credited as for actors) takes us outside of the emotion or whatever sensation the director would eventually like us to feel. A climax with psychedelic views across the universe follows the last difficult choice of Caouette: to continue to cure his mother with Lithium, knowing it might kill her, or to stop the Lithium and see her waste away again. He seems to unconsciously avoid the issue by ending with some nonsensical editing. Maybe this is the actual meaning of it: refusing choices and surviving in chaos. by Elisabeth (France)

Renault-Geslin


from top to bottom: Snowtown, The Slut, Michael, Polisse, My Little Princess

in focus //

Paedophilia

The kids are not all right Fathoming uncharted corners of the human mind is a must to all who want to say something gritty and valid about human nature. The audience also loves it as they can have a close and intimate relationship with these flawed characters from the secure embrace of a convenient chair in a warm and cosy cinema. Whether it is central to the plot or just happens incidentally, cinema is abundant in portraying sexual disorders. This year’s festival welcomes at least five films which reflect upon paedophilia. Outstanding independent American predecessors where the whole plot revolves around this deeply disturbing subject matter – like The Woodsman by Nicole Kassell (Cannes 2004) and Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. – are all but giving a onedimensional picture of these dysfunctional elements together with Louis Theroux’s plucky documentary about them. Can these role models be outgrown? Paedophilia should be on the list of the seven deadly sins. And still, it is not so black and white. Even these inhuman creatures have their human sides. ”Their bad part is what they did not choose” – says one of the social workers in Louis Theroux’s documentary about paedophiles. And from this point we can embark on an endless philosophical debate on what makes us human; and to what extent our personality is determined. This may be the reason why this theme is so hard to tackle. On one hand, the audience should not be allowed to cherish too much compassion for them. On the other hand, cheap sexual sensationalism

should also be avoided. Thus, such a complex and distressing substance poses an enormous challenge to filmmakers only to be overcome by intellectual and emotional subtlety. Austrian director Markus Schleinzer’s Michael is definitely not a film about paedophilia though its main character is a paedophile. In this case, the sexual disorder is merely part of the psychological depiction of a ridiculously insignificant and stereotypical Austrian petit-bourgeois. This barely human creature was meant to be so minimal and irrelevant to the world that only when he dies it turns out that his name was Michael. The anally-fixated, over-scrupulous office worker is leading the most petit, most perverted life we could ever imagine. Michael is holding captive a little boy to satisfy his bottomless sickness. The visual style in Schleinzer’s film perfectly fits the story: all the grim shots are purely functional. If you decide to know more about the perverted petit-bourgeois life of the suburban Austrians, Ulrich Seidl’s Dog Days is a better option. Hagar Ben Asher’s The Slut is also a movie about lower class people living a vague life in the countryside where their only pleasure is some ugly sex. The slut, though seemingly has an intimate relationship with his altruistic veterinary boyfriend, is unable to give upon her former life just for the sake of love, and cheats on his boyfriend. Out of sheer revenge he sleeps with one of the sluts’ daughters – whom he had a very warm and caring relationship up to this point. It seems to be an overreaction, highly mannered, exaggerated and unmotivated though we all know that one might be capable of extremes. Paedophilia is a perfect and convenient tool to impart such a bleak message. Snowtown by Justin Kurzel suggests an overwhelmingly intense talent behind the camera but also does not attempts to say anything new about paedophilia. The axis of the story is the relationship of a serial killer psychopath and a vulnerable schizophrenic teenage boy molested by his own brother. Paedophilia is here only

an excuse for the charmingly manipulative John to embark on a killing spree pretending to be the saviour of the deprived kids. Two other films, Polisse by Maiwenn and My Little Princess by Eva Ionesco (see interview in this issue), deal also somehow –even though very differently- with the topic of child abuse. This very large amount of films in Cannes this year naturally raises the question of whether this is only circumstantial, or if paedophilia –and more generally the violence against children- is the new film frontier, a barometer revealing the state of our societies. By Eva Kincsei (Hungary)


interview interview Director of My Little Princess - Critics’ Week

Eva Ionesco

Why did you use the conventions of a fairytale to tell such a personal story? I was drawn towards the fairytale genre quite quickly, and to a story told in a rather linear and naïve way, in the good sense of the word, because I found that this corresponded well to the development of the characters. The idea came to me because with a fairytale, there is the concept of the devouring mother, who loves her daughter and completely consumes her, almost to the point of killing her. That’s really what it is. The film shows this mum who photographs, but does not see her daughter. The story was also well-suited to fairytale, because I like to start with: “Once upon a time…” It had to be told very simply: there was always a danger of it turning towards psychodrama. Do you recognise yourself in the term autofiction? I wouldn’t say autofiction, because my work was to decentre myself. I didn’t want to act in the film at all, for example. I love filming people and I love images, this is what I prefer. The question to ask is whether you are the best person to tell your own story. I would say that yes it’s autofiction and at the same time it’s not. Autofiction is a genre in itself. For example, in Maiwenn’s film: she put in place a system to film herself. Could you tell us about your meeting with Isabelle Huppert? I had wanted to work with Isabelle for a very long time. I really had her in mind for this character, because for me she was the only one who could play someone intellectual and yet so poisonous at the same time, and make it believable. So I waited quite a long time. Isabelle fascinated me, but I was a bit scared. I found myself in Africa with Isabelle for one week, during the shooting of Claire Denis’ film. I gave her the script, and she replied very soon after. She liked it straight away.

Photo by Damien Rayuela (FRANCE)

Presented as a special screening to celebrate the 50th year of the Critics’ Week, My Little Princess features Isabelle Huppert, a regular in this Cannes selection dedicated to new talents (after appearing in Home in 2008 and Copacabana in 2010). Nisimazine met director Eva Ionesco, who brings her own childhood to the screen, marked by the conflictual relationship with her photographer mother. Was it difficult to find someone for the role of Violetta, played by Anamaria Vartolomei? I met Anamaria quite late actually. There was a casting with 500 little girls, which is a lot. I was looking mostly for girls from the East, a little rounded, pale complexioned, preferably blonde. We made a call in a Romanian newspaper, and I think she and her parents saw it, and she came. There were a fair few screen tests. I wanted to know if she really wanted to do it, if she was going to be scared. How did you allow her to appropriate the story for herself? It’s doesn’t come so naturally for a 10-and-a-half-year-old to play a girl from a rather strange background - a little girl who rebels against a mother who undresses her, who wants her to be naked. We had to create the character, find parallels. I wanted her to completely understand the script and what she was doing, and we had to rehearse a lot. We de-dramatised the story, which was difficult, and we worked on the confrontation, the loneliness, the joviality. I also lent her my clown nose so that she could learn to joke around with her body. I showed her Zazie dans le métro, the films of François Truffaut. She also saw the films of Isabelle Huppert, who she didn’t know, and of course Lolita by Kubrick – all of these films are kind of cousins of My Little Princess. I also showed her the photos of my mother, but not all of them. Above all, we talked a lot about the character, and about violence: she had to leave childhood for something a lot more trashy.

By Matthieu Darras (France)


portrait Director of Corpo Celeste - Directors’ Fortnight

Alice Rohrwacher

Nanni Moretti´s disputed Habemus Papam and Paolo Sorrentino´s This Must Be The Place represent Italian cinema in the main competition. In contrast to those established directors, who have had their habits for many years in Cannes and come along with a well-known cast, 29-year-old Alice Rohrwacher is premiering her debut feature Corpo Celeste at the Directors’ Fortnight. She is certainly a new original voice to be followed in a sclerotic Italian cinema. Rohrwacher’s name certainly rings a bell to the ears of Italian cinema fans, since she’s the younger sister of the famous actress Alba. Alice grew up in Florence and firstly studied literature and philosophy at the University of Turin. She then did a master degree in screenwriting and documentary languages, as well as attended the courses of narrative techniques, screenplay and dramaturgy at the Scuola Holden. Together with Pier Paolo Giarolo she developed the documentary Un piccolo spettacolo in 2005, which won a prize at the International Documentary Festival in Rome. She then co-directed the short documentary Vila Morena with Alexandra Loureiro, produced by the Videoteca Municipal of Lisbon. In 2006, together with nine other directors, she made the documentary Checosamanca. During the last five years Alice Rohrwacher participated in several other film projects, contributing her work as a cutter and photographer. Corpo Celeste is her first feature film, coproduced between Italy, Switzerland, and France. It is the story of Marta, a 13-year old girl who moves to Reggio Calabria with her mother after having grown up in Germany. In Italy, Marta immerses into a new world she has difficulties to adapt to. Rohrwacher arranges this coming-of-age story within a religious framework, since Marta is within preparations of her own confirmation. Confronted with the unfamiliar conditions

of a rather moral society in Southern Italy, Marta is experiencing feelings of anxiety and otherness and is trying to arrange between contradictory worlds of tradition and consumerism, past and present. Alice Rohrwacher, who has a German father herself, denies that Marta’s story has to do with her own biography. “As a director everything you make bears some traces of you, but that doesn’t mean it’s your own story.” In fact her inspiration for Corpo Celeste came by reading Nick Cave´s Gospel According to Mark and then further developed by including other subjects that were important for her. Telling about puberty within a religious context was a decision she made “because it was a subject about which I knew very little and I wanted to learn more.”

‘I am from the southwest of France, but I am studying Communication in Cannes, - the Red Cross called me, because they wanted some young volunteers collecting in Cannes, they did not want old people to do that, we preferred young people. I think people who have less money give the most - it’s amazing, you know, because people here are not poor…’

Delighted to take her first feature to Cannes, Alice Rohrwacher is thankful for her wonderful cast and crew. Especially for the young Yle Vianello who is playing Marta. “Yle comes from a very self-sufficient community based in the mountains of Tuscany. In many ways this background has given her an interesting outside or foreign outlook, which suited the character of Marta.” Alice Rohrwacher, who feels inspired from directors like Roberto Rossellini, Matteo Garrone, Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Lee Chang-Dong, brings a fresh, female perspective into the Italian representatives at Cannes. Her debut film is undoubtedly a sensitive and elaborate portrait of a teenage girl and the community she lives in. By Anne-Sophie Meusburger (Austria)

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Nisimazine Cannes 2011 Issue #4