Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani • Directors
"We make films that focus on sensations"
by Aurore Engelen
- We chatted to Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, who return to FIFF in Namur with their new film, Let the Corpses Tan
After Amer [+see also:
film profile] and The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears [+see also:
film profile], Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani return with a film that is both obvious and surprising, resuming the usual pattern of their eminently sensory cinema, while launching themselves into a new genre, that of the whodunit, or more precisely, the siege film. While deploying their cinematographic universe, Let the Corpses Tan [+see also:
interview: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
film profile] should allow them to widen their audience in theatres and at festivals. The film is to be screened at FIFF in Namur.
Cineuropa: Where does this project come from, it’s quite atypical compared to your first two films?
Hélène Cattet: About ten years ago I was working in a book shop when I discovered the reissue of an unabridged copy of Manchette. Let the Corpses Tan is his first novel. I immediately told Bruno: "Read it, it's visual, it's cinematic, it's like it's been made for us!"
Bruno Forzani: I was less convinced at first, but it's true that the treatment of time and space was hyper-cinematic. It’s a behavourist writing style, the characters are described by their behaviour and not by their past, which corresponded well to us. In terms of narration however, it was more linear. whereas we created something very maze-like with The Strange Colour. So, I had doubts, but when we started writing, with a bit of work, it all happened rather simply and quickly! In fact, we were impressed with the number of action sequences we had written. It isn’t something you see a lot in Belgian cinema, we wondered if we would find the right people, and then we wondered if we would have the means to film them!
How did you approach adaptation, as an appropriation?
BF: We have remained very faithful to the structure of the book, and to the dialogue itself. We just imported our own visual universe. We also love ‘70s cinema, and an Italian western scenario straight from 1971 was being offered to us on a plate!
Your universe is very referential, an explosion of different elements.
HC: The films that we admire, from the giallo to the Italian western, have a very strong iconography, and we’ve attempted to remix said icons in order to better redefine them.
BF: The primary reference is the book. But we were also inspired by the new realists in terms of set design: Niky by St Phalle, Yves Klein, Tinguely. Even sometimes in the way that we staged the action sequences. With people like Armand, everything is linked to destruction, it made sense to revisit that universe. We tried to find a balance while mixing all of that together.
HC: It was very intuitive in the end!
Would you consider there to be a real fetishism of bodies and matter?
HC: We make films that focus on sensations, we were sort of re-creating something in 3D, in order to offer a complete spectacle along with sensory immersion. We play a lot with the impact of sounds in particular. With explosions and the squeaking of leather. As we film without sound, we're forced to re-create everything. We work for six months on sound alone!
BF: We work with sound very precisely, in order to play on the textures. In the book, people were fighting for gold, not banknotes, and we had some organic matter there too. We created a film made from mineral, from gold in the rocks, in order to move towards something more universal and timeless, far from consumer society or social reality. We like the abstraction.
How do you go about choosing the music?
HC: We take existing pieces of film that are usually dated to the 1970s, and we try to reuse them in the foreground, in their true form, in a different way to the way in which they have previously been used. For example, giallo music, but out of context, ditto for Western music. We’ve created this shift in order to build a timeless universe.
What other projects are on the cards?
BF: We are working on the adaptation of an American book, a co-production with Canada and Japan, an adult animation film. Following that, we’re eager to direct the third part of the trilogy that began with Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears.
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