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"A contemporary western set in the Western Pyrenees"

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Jean Anouilh • Director


- Jean Anouilh won the Development Aid Grant at the Cinemed Meetings with Marta, his debut feature project being produced by La Voie Lactée

Jean Anouilh  • Director

Interview in Montpellier with filmmaker Jean Anouilh, the overall winner of the 26th edition of the Development Aid Grant organised as part of the 38th Mediterranean Film Festival (see the article). Accompanied by his producer Marie Sonne Jensen (La Voie Lactée), the director talked to us about Marta, his debut feature project which won over the jury and won him the main grant for €8,000 from the CNC (along with €5,000-worth of image post-production services from Anaphi Studios). He wrote the main character in the film with Laure Calamy in mind (who won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015 for his performance in short film La contre-allée and recently starred in In Bed with Victoria [+see also:
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interview: Justine Triet
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and Staying Vertical [+see also:
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interview: Alain Guiraudie
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), who is set to take up the role. 

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Cineuropa: What are the main plot lines in Marta ?
Jean Anouilh: It’s the story of a mother in search of her son who does everything she can to save him, whilst experiencing extreme violence from the men in her life and hiding a secret about the birth of her son, a secret that her quest in the present-day reality of the film uncovers.

The story in the film is set in a very specific area.
It’s a contemporary western set in the Western Pyrenees, in a small Catalonian enclave on the border between Cerbère and Portbou, in the Albera Massif and the foothills of the Pyrenees as they plunge down to the sea. I know that area very well, it’s where I filmed my last short. It’s a really small area that is packed with history as it was there, for example, that members of the Resistance and refugees passed through during the war, and makes you think of Greece or Mexico.

During your pitching session, you mentioned that you were influenced by certain modern-day independent American films.
My ambition and my aim is to draw my inspiration from debut films made in recent years on rather tight budgets, which are based on very simple premises, centre around a family or a very small group of characters in a very local context, and are boosted and brought to life by footage of the surrounding area. It’s a very pictorial yet very physical type of film. I’m referring to films like Shotgun Stories by Jeff Nichols, Wendy et Lucy and Old Joy by Kelly Reichardt, Joe by David Gordon Green, or films of the genre of Blue Ruin by Jeremy Saulnier. In French film, adopting a more documentary approach, I’m thinking of Eat Your Bones [+see also:
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by Jean-Charles Hue. 

What stage is the writing at?
I’m working with another screenwriter, Jean-Christophe Bouzy, who is unique in that he is an editor and has just co-written Comme un garçon (formerly Les filles de Reims - see article). We now have a first draft of the screenplay after working intensively for almost a year, exploring a number of options to get the structure of the film in place. We hope to have a second version ready by the beginning of 2017. Winning the Development Aid Grant at Montpellier is highly encouraging and is in perfect keeping with the dynamic we’re trying to establish with the producers at La Voie Lactée.

Turning to the production side of things, what are your aims in terms of timescale?
Marie Sonne Jensen: We’re now looking for a Spanish co-producer, ideally Catalonian. What I like about Jean Anouilh, and this also came out of the different points of view of the jury for the Development Aid Grant here in Montpellier, is that the way he wanted to make Marta fits in with a register and style of film that we’re not used to seeing and is intriguing. And even though it’s a short film, the way he directed Port-Bou (2016 - 30 mins – produced by La Voie Lactée), following through with his intentions, quite frankly won myself and my colleagues Nathalie Algazi and François Drouot over. We actually said to ourselves: "this is why people make films".

(Translated from French)


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