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"I was able to tackle an intimate subject without having to make such an intimate film "

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Philippe Lioret • Director

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- Cineuropa sat down with French director Philippe Lioret, who presented his latest film, A Kid, in competition at the Warsaw Film Festival

Philippe Lioret • Director

French director Philippe Lioret (Welcome [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film focus
interview: Philippe Lioret
film profile
]
, All Our Desires [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) presented A Kid [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Philippe Lioret
film profile
]
 in competition at the Warsaw Film Festival. Cineuropa had a chance to sit down with the director to discuss his latest work.

Cineuropa: A Kid was more than touching, it makes you cry, but with those tears also comes a smile. Where did the idea come from?
Philippe Lioret
: The idea for the film came to me from a book: Jean-Paul Dubois’ Si ce livre pouvait me rapprocher de toi. It was only a source of inspiration, mind you, although it allowed me to tackle a rather personal topic, one that took me almost three years to write. While reading the story, I had this idea in my head of a bright and "sunny" film, and, in this respect, I find it quite reassuring that it managed to make you smile.

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How did you pick the actors?
When we started casting, I said to myself, “I don’t really need to cast stars to make this film, I only have to find the actors whose true nature most closely mirrors that of the characters”. I know that Mathieu, in spite of his 35 years’ of age, has a strong inner child. I have met almost all of the actors of that generation, and felt that Deladonchamps had the strongest inner child of all of them. The Canadian roles were a little harder to cast, however, because I didn’t know a lot of the actors. I watched a number of impressive Quebecois films before stumbling upon Sébastien Pilote’s The Auction, in which Arcand had the starring role. I fell for him instantly, he was my guy. And when Gabriel read the film’s script, he said to me, "that’s me". And like that, we had found our cast.

How did you come to this shape for the story? Was the work on the script complicated?
Like I said earlier, there’s almost nothing of Jean-Paul’s book left in the film, it was merely a source of inspiration, the catalyst. Furthermore, I had contacted Natalie Carter so that I wasn’t alone in tackling this "mountain of contradictory feelings", but, as it turned out, this was an exceptionally personal story, and Natalie quickly convinced me to write it by myself... And, giving the movie the shape that you’re talking about took a lot of convolution, doubt and questions, and therefore a lot of work. Then there was even more work to try and make sure audiences couldn’t see all the work that was put into it. I like to think that a film is a gift we give to the viewer, and if they can see the work that has gone into making it, it’s almost as if we have left the price tag on that gift.

Tell us a bit about the visual style. Both the cinematography and editing are very clean and disciplined, there is no flamboyancy or experimentation, but it still makes for very dynamic viewing. You move from interiors out to the lake, which splits the film into two halves, although the interior scenes are predominant in the sense of sheer duration.
You know, none of the visual balance you’re mention was intentional – you can’t manufacture that sort of thing. But maybe, in spite of what I just said, I managed to arrange the scenes in just that way, having always wanted to make a “sunny” and optimistic film. I also love movement and big spaces (Canada was great for that!), it’s something that allowed me to tackle an intimate subject without having to make such an intimate film.

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