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LECCE 2018

Marie Garel-Weiss • Director

"I wanted talk about what happens when you stop taking drugs and life starts to become possible"


- French director and screenwriter Marie Garel-Weiss tells us about her first feature film, The Party's Over, in competition at the 19th Lecce European Film Festival

Marie Garel-Weiss • Director

Co-writer for various directors, including Fabrice du Welz, Cédric Kahn and Hélène Angel, French director Marie Garel-Weiss makes her feature film debut with a very personal film, which focuses on drug addiction, but primarily friendship and the joy of living, starring Zita Hanrot and Clémence Boisnard as the film’stwo splendid protagonists. The Party's Over [+see also:
film review
interview: Marie Garel-Weiss
film profile
is in competition at the 19th Lecce European Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: Why did you end up making this film?
Marie Garel-Weiss: It was a subject I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time. It's my own personal story. I overcame addiction thanks to a friendship with a girl who I spent some very intense years with, who then became almost like a second mother to my children. I knew that that sort of friendship, in that context, was good material for a story, just like the films I like to watch at the cinema. I also wanted to tell the story of what happens afterwards, not so much during the addiction, but when you get better and life starts to become possible, when every emotion and feeling – even the sensation of the sun on your skin – feels so strong. At the same time, I was also a bit afraid to make the film because everything was so personal to me. In the end, other people convinced me that I absolutely had to make this film.

The film deals with the theme of addiction while avoiding stereotypes. On the contrary, in the group therapy sessions we see some very surprising people participating. It’s as if the film’s message is that this sort of thing can happen to anyone. Was that your intention?
It's hard to get away from clichés, and yet when you hear about addiction, every story is different. People always think that addicts have dysfunctional families, that they're liars, that it's more of a vice than a disease ... And then there was my experience. I had this friend, I loved her family, which was more middle class than mine despite being a family of immigrants, but she thought they were all crazy. In fact, the difference between people who are dependent and those who aren’t is that slightly stronger feeling of not fitting in. When you take drugs, it gives you some relief and you can live without having to depend on others. So yes, it can happen to anybody.

In the rehab centre in the film, the friendship between the two women is not taken well because, as the therapist says, you have to overcome it alone. Is that how it is in real life?
It's both like that and also not like that at the same time. Therapists say, "if you spend time together, you’ll have a relapse." The co-writer, Salvatore Lista, and myself told ourselves that this was the sentence that articulated the whole story. They are right, but given that it’s a film and that life is much more powerful than dogmas and theories, they are also wrong. It's like in love stories, when they tell you that you shouldn’t be with someone because it won’t work out, but then you stay with them and something good comes out of it. When you take drugs you want to eat, love and make friends. You need to fill yourself full of things. Even if they're not true friendships because they rely on something. But there are some things that can withstand it, these two protagonists in particular create a real bond.

The film’s final message seems to be precisely about the importance of human solidarity...
It may seem like a naive message, but in today's society it’s only other people, bonds and human beings that can keep us going. You can't rely on institutions, money, progress, or anything virtual. At times like these we all need to come together. Although they are disjointed, Céleste and Sihem have a very strong bond.

There are various changes of pace during the film, moments when the story seems to go one way and then instead changes direction. Why did you choose this particular structure?
The film is about rebirth, so initially we were looking for solutions about how to get out of addiction. But there are no real solutions, so we wrote about this, what happens outside when you decide to heal. When your family tells you to look for a job, to integrate into society... There are no right answers, I wanted to maintain that feeling of fluctuation in the story, you cannot predict what will happen, including to the characters. I was inspired by the film Head-On [+see also:
film profile
by Fatih Akin, about a man and a woman who are told that they can’t be together, they get close and become distant in continuous fluctuation.

(Translated from Italian)

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