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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2020 New Directors

Suzanne Lindon • Director of Spring Blossom

“My character has no tools to fight against the fact that she is bored”

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- We chatted to Suzanne Lindon about her New Directors-screened feature debut, Spring Blossom, also touching on the topics of love and boredom

Suzanne Lindon • Director of Spring Blossom
(© Montse Castillo/Festival de San Sebastián)

Suzanne Lindon’s debut feature, Spring Blossom [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Suzanne Lindon
film profile
]
, is a personal tale of love between a teenage girl and a thirty-something man, which was awarded the Cannes 2020 label and is now unspooling in New Directors at the San Sebastián Film Festival.

Cineuropa: What made you want to write a film, which you direct and star in, about a young girl's emotional connection with an older guy?
Suzanne Lindon: Everything started naturally for me because I was 15 when I wrote the script, and it was the summer before starting high school. I was experiencing the same feelings as my character in the movie. So I wrote about what I actually knew, as a sort of diary. And I felt a sort of melancholy that I wasn't totally able to explain at that time.

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Did you see yourself as an actor or a director?
I really wanted to act – that was the first thing I wanted to do – but my parents [Vincent Lindon and Sandrine Kiberlain] are actors. So I was really shy and reluctant to admit the fact that I wanted to do the same. And I really needed to feel totally legitimate and genuine to do it. Thus, making a film in which I could play a role was a kind of gesture so that I could feel totally comfortable with this desire to act. Little by little, I discovered that I had many passions and that I could create a film in which I could do it all at the same time.

You said that the film is based on your emotions at 15, so how much of it is biographical?
I tried to create a story that’s universal because I wanted to deal with a universal subject, which is how adolescence and this period in life can be complicated. But I also wanted to talk about the love affair. It's autobiographical because when I was 15 – so one year younger than the character in the film, but it's the same, really – I think I was more interested in my fantasies than I was in the life I was living. By writing about a fantasy figure, which is Arnaud Valois' character in the movie, it helped me to describe how I felt at that age. I was obsessed with things that I wasn't able to experience. To me, it's not like they're in a couple or anything, but it's a very pure relationship because they're in love.

The film seems to go out of its way to avoid depicting any social media. Why?
It was very important for me that the movie should not have any connection with all these social media or phones, or anything that is linked to our present time, because I wanted everybody to be able to recognise themselves in the feature. All of the generations. I didn't want anything to tell the audience which period the film was taking place in.

How does that change the story?
It's important because she is bored with people her age, and she has no tools to fight against the fact that she is bored: no phones, no games, no social media, no way to talk to anyone else. This was a risk that I was ready to take because, of course, it's harder to write something without having the possibility to make two people communicate with mobile phones, but that was a challenge that I wanted to embrace. It is what I like in the love story, too: they meet because they are in the same place at that exact moment. It's much more romantic than if they were texting or calling each other.

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