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Interview with Yanis Belaid, Eliott Benard, Nicolas Mayeur, Étienne Moulin, Hadrien Pinot, Lisa Vicente, Philippine Singer, Alice Letailleur, co-directors of Les Larmes de la Seine [Seine’s Tears]

Saturday 5 February 2022, by Brasserie du Court team, Clotilde Couturier

17 October 1961, "Algerian workers" get down the streets to manifest against the mandatory curfew imposed by the Police prefecture.

Was the choice to focus on the demonstration of 17 October 1961 generally agreed upon, or was it the subject of discussion within the group?

As we were discussing what sort of film we were going to make, Yanis proposed the idea of a film on that event. What struck him was that most of us had no idea about the event, even though it’s a piece of our country’s history. It quickly became obvious that we were going to tell that story, our own way, to inform as many people as possible who didn’t know about what had happened. Our discussions about the film immediately went off in the direction of the things we needed to put in place to tell the story (especially the technical side, because there’s a real issue in staging a diverse crowd), and we didn’t linger on the topic itself because we all had a common desire to broadcast the event to as many people as possible.

Why did you want to begin the film with framed-shots and cuts that give the impression of of archival images? Did you research how the events developed?

The first part of the film is meant to be convincing, and unbiased, and the dashboard camera was very handy because it immerses you in the demonstration and retraces the entire path of the Algerian workers. That also allowed us to work a lot on the sound, which immerses the viewer in our story so they relive and feel the intensity of what happened through the film. The film’s process retraces the path that was really taken the night of the demonstration, showing the key points in the city of Paris, as much for their aesthetic value as for the image they send. We wanted to be as faithful as possible to the process of the events, the likeness of the surroundings, and the actions that were taken that night, so that was where we directed our research.

How did you achieve the colours in the film?

We based the film’s colours on certain cinematic models, Amélie for example, so that the colours accentuate the atmosphere, which changes over the course of the film: warm colours evoke the end of the day at the beginning of the demonstration; nighttime on the Place Saint-Michel punctuated by the sirens of the police vans intensifies the danger of the actions taking place; the opposition of colour underwater that has the colours of the past and future collide with the second, more festive, part of the film that singles out our main character, and also the stadium with its projectors and bright colours that bring joy and melancholy.

Why did you want to include laughter and festivities?

By choosing to make a stylized film, we had already decided not to talk about things head on. In showing things factually in the first part, we wanted to surprise the viewer in the second with a disconnect between what they might be expecting and what we offered up: we tell the same story but in a parallel world that’s meant to be festive and based on living together. The opposition between the violence of the demonstration and the joy and softness of the party, accompanied by Ibrahim Maalouf’s sublime trumpet, allows us to lead the viewer towards possibly reevaluating the event.

Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?

As we were making our film, we discovered Bastien Dubois’ Souvenir souvenir which deals with topics similar to our film. It was very interesting to see how he handled the subject and be able to discuss it with him.

What’s your definition of a good film?

Making a film is a power that opens up all possibilities. There are a million ways to tell stories, and just as many techniques and means for making them. For us, making a film means creating something that reflects us, talking about something that we hold dear: if the creator likes their own film, then it’s a good film; everything else depends on how each person will perceive it.

Les larmes de la Seine | Trailer | 2021 from PÔLE 3D on Vimeo.

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