Frédéric Farrucci • Director of Night Ride
"The crime storyline is often just an excuse"
- Frédéric Farrucci tells us about the genesis of his captivating feature debut, Night Ride, an atmospheric film noir centred on an illegal Chinese taxi driver in Paris
Produced by Koro Films and sold internationally by WTFilms, Frédéric Farrucci’s feature debut, Night Ride [+see also:
interview: Frédéric Farrucci
film profile], was released in French cinemas on 15 July via Jour2Fête. Starring Guang Huo and Camélia Jordana, this atmospheric film noir reveals a very promising director.
Cineuropa: The Asian community in France is very rarely portrayed in French cinema. How did you come to this topic?
Frédéric Farrucci: By chance. My co-writer Nicolas Journet had had a rather painful love story with a stripper and he wanted to investigate these young women. He discovered that most of them also work as call girls and that each one of them is assigned a taxi driver, who comes to pick her up at the end of her show to offer her a kind of security, a moment to relax. That’s why he suggested the idea of a love story between a stripper and a taxi driver. I wasn’t so excited by the love story itself, but what really interested me was the nighttime taxi driver. Because I love the Parisian nighttime, when people of the margins mix together with the others and encounters happen which wouldn’t be possible during the day, when everyone is so divided. So we researched the job of nighttime taxi driver and an urban legend was regularly mentioned: the Chinese mafia making illegal immigrants drive non-officially recognised taxis. We were never able to verify these stories, but it spoke to me enormously. First of all in terms of genre cinema, because it plunged me in film noir, with on top of that a community that is considered to be very mysterious. There was also the aspect of modern slavery, a topic I’m very interested in: the condition of immigrants who arrive in France, who are not welcomed and often find themselves responding to intra-community mafias. That’s how we reached the idea of the Chinese community almost by chance, but because it isn’t often shown in cinema and because it is nevertheless quite substantial in France, I thought it would be a good idea to bring a bit of diversity to the screen.
Why are you so interested in the film noir genre?
Often, under the guise of a crime story, film noirs paint a portrait of an era, of a place, of a society, and of a humanity too: they are films with a great social conscience. The crime storyline is often just an excuse, a kind of Trojan horse, as opposed to the thriller where it is in the foreground. Moreover, film noir is a cinema of atmosphere, it is very urban, it depicts the city at night, with a strong style also felt in the film’s score. I wanted to take the codes of the genre and apply them to the Paris I live in, the contemporary Paris. These are also often films which centre on the people on the margins, and today, no one is more marginalised than an illegal immigrant who works for a mafia.
You also show very poor neighbourhoods of Paris which can be seen in certain documentaries, but very rarely in fiction.
It isn’t glamorous, but I wanted to use the natural tracking shot of the car to move through places which brought us a little further away from the postcard image of Paris, and to show what my lead character was seeing. In his precarious situation, it is natural that he would be looking at the Bangladeshis as they get ready to sell roses in restaurants, or at the Africans selling small Eiffel Tower keychains at the foot of the actual Eiffel Tower. But there are also aesthetic aspects, the desire to have a somber darkness, with neon lights piercing through it.
Besides Camélia Jordana, the film features many non-professional actors. Why this choice?
I was really interested in the topic of the Chinese community, but I was also concerned with legitimacy and accuracy. So I did some research with a researcher from the CNRS who is a native of China and whose work focuses on migrations between China and Europe. I also met with a lot of people from that community to get a sense of it, to ask them questions. For the casting, during the tests with French actors of Chinese origins, beyond the fact that there are very few, there already was something very Occidental in the way they expressed themselves, in the way they moved: I had the feeling of a lack of accuracy, when I wanted to treat the topic of people who were arriving from China. Because the film had a small budget, we also didn’t really have the means to bring actors over from China. So we found ourselves doing street casting, through associations and through WeChat, which is an app that is used a lot by the Chinese community. I was lucky that Guang Huo replied to our ad, and I also cast the supporting roles with a Chinese casting director.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.