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LOCARNO 2022 Piazza Grande

Delphine Lehericey • Director of Last Dance

"Between La Ribot and me it was love at first sight on the professional level, we were like work sisters"

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- The Swiss-born, Belgium-based filmmaker discusses how the worlds of contemporary dance and cinema merge perfectly in her love story

Delphine Lehericey • Director of Last Dance
(© Antonella Tarantino)

Swiss director Delphine Lehericey presented her new feature Last Dance [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Delphine Lehericey
film profile
]
at the Locarno Film Festival in the Piazza Grande section. We talked to her about her connection with the Spanish Swiss-based choreographer La Ribot and how her grandfather was one of her main sources of inspiration for the film.

Cineuropa: What does the giant madeleine muffin the protagonist dreams about right at the beginning stand for?
Delphine Lehericey: I wanted to use a dream to open the film, so that the tone of the story would become clear immediately. The comical aspect is there from the start. I wanted to show that the protagonist has a somehow surreal side and he will experience some offbeat adventures.

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Where does the inspiration for the story come from?
I'd been trying to write a comedy for quite a while. First I thought about a road-movie, then I knew I wanted to focus on a character in his late years. I have been inspired by my grandfather very much. He made me think of my origins. And to my origins belongs also the world of performing art and contemporary dance. I am convinced that everyone can dance and this was one of the main ideas for the film.

How did you start working with the choreographer La Ribot?
I had already written the character of the choreographer before meeting her and before we decided to work together. As a first inspiration I had thought about the French choreographer Mathilde Monnier. But then I saw several performances by La Ribot. I like her very much, because I think she has an interesting complexity in her work. She is very intelligent and has a sense of humour. Between us it was love at first sight on the professional level, we were like work sisters. We developed the film based on some of her older plays and together with dancers of her company. It was great to let the two worlds of dance and cinema meet.

Why did you want François Berléand to play the main role?
I like the delicacy and at the same them the burlesque side of his acting. He is not afraid to appear ridiculous, he gives everything for his roles. Moreover, he was perfect physically. He has a “non-body,” he can't dance, he's rather clumsy. There is only the choreographer who sees something special in him, who sees that there are emotions in his body. It is impossible to think of him dancing at the beginning, but at the end he manages to and moves his family.

You tell a tender love story. Where did you get your inspiration from?
First of all, I am a passionate reader, and I am particularly fond of epistolary novels. This is why I inserted a reference to Proust, for example. But then besides that, again my grandfather was of great inspiration to me. During the COVID confinement, my grandfather and my grandmother where separated because my grandmother got ill. My grandfather wrote to my grandmother every day, often simple and everyday things as in the film. At that time I was writing the script and this touched me very much. I realised that in grief there is not only pain, but there can also be a more positive adventure.

Family is an important topic in your films.
Yes, family inspires me very much and lets me think of cinematic images. Family is the biggest comedy in life. No matter how old we are, we keep being our parents' children, even if we treat each other as the adults we really are.

As in you previous film, you bring together actors from several French-speaking countries. It seems to work harmoniously.
I like to work with actors from France, Belgium and Switzerland together, it's a fantastic mixture. I claim to make a European cinema, rather than a French cinema. Actually, I am much more inspired by British and Italian comedies than by French ones, for example.

Do you recognise yourself in one of characters?
Actually, a little bit in all of them. But I like to think that I'm like the granddaughter of the protagonist, who is very close to her grandfather and is ready to be his accomplice.

There are two main shooting locations, the apartment and the theatre. How did you think to connect the two visually?
Actually, we had two separate shootings and I was a little bit concerned about how we would make the two parts fit together. The link came mainly through the colours. In the apartment there are a lot of browns and purples. And the colours of La Ribot, who has in my eyes something of a character from an Almodovar film, are similar, including red.

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