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"There’s huge pressure on films to make money"

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Rebecca Daly • Director

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- Irish director Rebecca Daly, who was invited to participate in Les Arcs’ "Nouvelles femmes de Cinéma" focus, talks to us, among other things, about her latest film, Good Favour

Rebecca Daly  • Director
(© Festival de Cinéma Européen des Arcs / Pidz.com)

After rising to prominence in the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes in 2011 with The Other Side of Sleep [+see also:
trailer
interview: Antonia Campbell-Huges
film profile
]
and competing at Sundance this year with Mammal [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Irish filmmaker Rebecca Daly is one of the 10 female directors to have been invited to the eighth Les Arcs European Film Festival  (being held from 10 to 17 December 2016) to participate in the "Nouvelles femmes de Cinéma" focus. It was also an opportunity for us to talk to her about her third feature film, Good Favour, currently in post-production, a film co-produced by Ireland (Savage Productions), Belgium (Wrong Men), the Netherlands (Viking Film), and Denmark (Final Cut For Real).

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: What’s your take on the place of women in the film industry?
Rebecca Daly: It’s clearly a hot topic at the moment, as there’s the feeling that women are under-represented in what we could call the highest realms of film. Moreover, generally speaking the public sees things from a male perspective. I think things are changing, at least I hope they are. But even if we need to talk about this, I’d much rather talk about my work, and I think all filmmakers are the same. That said, I have to say that the Irish Film Board has launched a programme aimed at striking a balance between male and female filmmakers and producers in a few years' time. Sweden has already done it and it worked really well, without affecting the quality of the films being made at all. Some people seem rather nervous at the idea, with the preconception that films by women are perhaps not as good as those by men, a point of view that I don’t share at all but which is engrained in the subconscious of financiers and festival selection committees, according to their interests. We need diversity in the industry, but at the moment people feel sort of obliged to take films by women into consideration, and I think we’re going to see some real changes in years to come.

What is Good Favour, the film you’re just finished shooting, about?
The story takes place in the middle of a forest in Germany, where a small community of Christians has settled. One day, a young man aged 18-19 appears out of nowhere and enters their lives. He’s very mysterious, no one knows where he’s from, and the story is about how he changes the community and how it changes him, and what that entails. As usual, I wrote the screenplay with Glenn Montgomery. The initial idea for the story came to us from an article about a young man wandering around Berlin who claimed he didn’t know who he was, before the truth finally came out that he came from Amsterdam and had simply run away from his responsibilities and his pregnant girlfriend. A pathetic ending to the story, no? But we liked the initial idea of a boy who appears out of nowhere, who says he can’t remember anything, and what effect that could have on others.

Mysterious characters are something of a constant denominator in your films.
That’s right, I really love using them. I don’t want to know everything, for someone to tell me everything, even less so through dialogue. As a viewer, I love films in which you find out what’s going on little by little, what drives the characters or what the filmmaker is trying to say. It’s just a preference of style. And that also keeps me interested in my own films.

Why the theme of religion?
The idea of faith, believing in something bigger than us, is a very interesting subject. Scientific research has even identified a part of the brain, the "God spot", which supposedly explains why humans want to believe and how they behave when they believe in God. But my film is more a sort of exploration of religion, it neither supports nor criticises it. It’s simply a subject with fascinating elements to it, even though religion itself can also damage, control, be used as a tool, etc. 

What nationality is the cast of Good Favour and what language is the film in?
We had a couple of very young actors, for whom these were their first major roles in film. We had a lot of Belgian actors in the cast as we shot the film in Belgium, but we also had a German, and several Danes. The idea was that the community in the film brings together people from different countries in Europe, which is why they speak English as a common language, their second language.

Where do you place yourself in the current film market?
For a director like myself, whose films are classed as "arthouse" or "crossover arthouse", the market is becoming harder and harder to penetrate, a tough place. There’s huge pressure on films to make money. This commercial side of the industry is valid in a sense, but it means the artistic form is seen as a lot less important.

(Translated from French)

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