Tapis Rouge, a Swiss road movie between reality and fiction
by Muriel Del Don
- Screened in competition for the Audience Award at Solothurn, the movie by Frédéric Baillif and Kantarama Gahigiri deals bravely and sensitively with young people who are often marginalised
The first fiction feature by Swiss directors Frédéric Baillif and Kantarama Gahigiri, written in collaboration with Frédéric Landenberg, is a Swiss road movie that recalls with power and freshness a certain independent US cinema. Tapis Rouge [+see also:
film profile], screened in competition for the Audience Award at the Solothurn Film Festival, tackles the often difficult reality that affects life in the “problem” neighbourhoods with courage and with successful aesthetic sensitivity.
A teacher tries to connect with a group of young people from a “difficult” suburb of Lausanne. To get closer to their world he helps them to develop an idea that at first glance seems a bit mad: to write a movie about their situation. In an attempt to make their dream come true he thus organises a an initiatory journey to the Cannes Film Festival that allows its participants to face up to their fears and above all to their desires.
A seemingly simple story that’s based on real-life experiences of young people from Lausanne from the suburban neighbourhood of Boveresses. These budding actors took on the challenge of Frédéric Baillif and Katarama Gahigiri with courage and determination and with a great deal of spontaneity that gives the characters a regenerating sensitivity. Tapis Rouge is a film straddling reality and fiction, a kind of collective psychoanalysis that pushes its characters to reveal themselves shamelessly, by giving their characters a part of their own complex experience. The characters are a hybrid of a fictional world and reality, of a dreamed of world and harsh daily life.
The characters’ often painful experiences are used as raw material that gradually becomes, thanks to some intensive improvisation workshops, an integral part of Baillif’s creative universe. A classic example of this careful acting work is given by the scene in which one of the main characters confesses his paralysing shyness with girls, a kind of separate moment where his private world is laid bare before the camera. The stars of Tapis Rouge have the courage to explore their own inner worlds before the audience that becomes (an involuntary) witness to their problems and their dreams. The photography by Joseph Areddy gives the images a beautiful and polished touch that mixes perfectly with the roughness of daily life experienced by the young heroes of this brilliant human odyssey.
With their first “duo” feature film our Swiss directors succeed in bringing together in an innovative way the spontaneity and the immediacy of the documentary world with the suspense and stylish precision of the fiction world. The scene in which the young people from Lausanne come out of their tents in the campsite, dressed in unlikely tuxedos, is symbolic of Baillif and Gahigiri’s desire to transform the protagonists’ daily life into something brilliant and aesthetically captivating. Tapis Rouge depicts this incredible transformation thanks to what we could call “the magic of film”, the, at times, surreal power of film. A human adventure that is deeply moving.
Tapis Rouge was financed thanks to a crowd-funding campaign and to the support of Boverasses Leisure Centre and the city of Lausanne as part of the education campaign “Moi et les Autres”. The movie is produced and sold internationally by Freshprod.
(Translated from Italian)