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Interview: Fabrizio Rongione • Actor/Producer

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"Truth exists so we can make the best of it"


- Much of the success of Joachim Lafosse’s film can be credited to its lead actor Fabrizio Rongione, who lends his character an eccentric and radiant grace

Interview: Fabrizio Rongione • Actor/Producer

While studying at the Conservatoire d'Art dramatique, Rongione was spotted by the Dardenne brothers, who gave him his first on-screen role, that of the angelic Riquet in Rosetta. He then worked in Italy, where he starred in Francesca Comencini’s Le parole di mio padre and Giancarlo Bocchi’s Nema Problema. He went on to found Eklektik productions before embarking on the adventure of Lafosse’s second feature. He is presently filming a documentary, while still performing in theatre.

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First encounters and projects
"Joachim and I met at a summer school in Avignon. I had just set up Eklektik Productions with my friends. I told him about my wish to make a film about stories set in Brussels. Three months later he suggested we write a film together and shoot it in Brussels."

"It was Joachim’s idea to tell a story about an out-of-work director. Personally, I would never have thought my first film made in Brussels would be about cinema. Joachim suggested filming it in Brussels and managed to persuade me it was the right decision."

Work and play
"From the moment when I found out that the lead character was semi-autobiographical, as an actor I took my inspiration from Joachim. I mirrored his personality, as we obviously don’t have the same character. Joachim is much more instinctive than I am and always tries to create a relaxed atmosphere. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to write a film on my own right away; but with his help, I discovered the desire to make films and a side of me I didn't know before. That made me happy."

"I got to understand Joachim and his co-scriptwriters Samuel Tilman and Kris Cuppens better when they insisted on recounting the life of a director, but above all wanting to tell the story of a man who – stripped of his job – finds himself unemployed, but eager to work. He exists only through working, in trying to make a dream, a desire reality. He could have become a plumber by trying to set up his own business. You see, he is trying to realize a dream, while also trying to bring some order to his life. Doing things means doing them with others. We do things with others and we undo them on our own. The concept of a group is important. As you know, you need at least two people to make a film, a director and an actor.

Dreams and reality
"During the making of Joachim’s new film, I kept repeating to myself the following phrase: "the truth isn’t beautiful". But it’s not that bad because it’s by facing up to this that you are able to write beautiful things. The truth's there so we can make the best of it."

"The film also deals with the fundamental dilemma all artists face. From the moment when you have to imagine a story, you have to dream, sublimate. You have the tendency to escape elsewhere and switch off from reality. Your dreams are always more intense than reality. The mind travels where it wants, at the speed it wants, whereas the body faces barriers. How do you get a girl to do what you want? Aside from being a manipulator or a pervert, it's completely impossible. This is why in the film Fabrizio finds it difficult to see Mariet as anything other than his fantasy woman. For him, Mariet must embody the woman he has fabricated in his imagination or be nothing at all. Throughout the making of the film, he is confronted with human and financial circumstances, which show him the limits of his fantasy. Mariet loses some of her aura. She had been painted the way he had imagined. But what is a dream if not a water painting? With a few tears, it gets washed away."


international title: What Makes You Happy
original title: Ça rend heureux
country: Belgium, Italy
sales agent: Films Distribution
year: 2006
directed by: Joachim Lafosse
screenplay: Joachim Lafosse, Samuel Tilman, Fabrizio Rongione, Kris Cuppens
cast: Fabrizio Rongione, Kris Cuppens, Catherine Salée, Mariet Eyckmans, Dirk Tuypens

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