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LOCARNO 2022 Competition

Patricia Mazuy • Director of Saturn Bowling

"I had to embrace the subject, and to show courage"

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- The French director discusses her very dark film noir with a very scary protagonist

Patricia Mazuy • Director of Saturn Bowling
(© Alexandre Ean)

Patricia Mazuy presented her new film Saturn Bowling [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Patricia Mazuy
film profile
]
in international competition at this year's Locarno Film Festival. She tells the violent story of a lost young man who does not only take over the bowling alley of his deceased father but also inherits a part of his dark side. We spoke to the director about symbols of masculinity, the bowling alley as setting and the actor who plays the main role.

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Cineuropa: Where does the idea of using a bowling centre as a setting come from?
Patricia Mazuy: I need to have a strong place as a setting for my films. I liked the idea of a bowling centre because it's a place that is very quiet, when it's closed, and very loud when it's open. I felt it is a somehow graphic space, with clear lines and forms. I liked the fact of having an underground place that would represent the descent of the main character to the entrails of the father.

Have you been inspired by a true crime?
No. The aim of the film was to analyse the transition to action, the shift to it. There is a protagonist who didn't plan it, but he gets to it.

Why was it so important to show the scene of violence in such a drastic way?
I had to embrace the subject, and to show courage. The scene shouldn't just pass by. That would have been too accommodating, and it's too important since the scene had to nourish the whole film. It was quite difficult to shoot. We prepared it like a scene from a musical. You should have the impression of real-time action, we had to be very precise.

The world of the hunters is par excellence a symbol for masculinity.
There are also women hunters, but yes, it's a symbol of an ancestral patriarchy. There is a different kind of violence that comes with it, a moral one. They show a terrifying and nightmarish vision. When the protagonist sees his father during his safari hunt, something shifts in him. He identifies himself with the prey, he knows that his end is near.

What was the most important thing the protagonist Armand had to represent?
It was important that he follows a dense and complex path. At the beginning he is a young person that suffers, afterwards he becomes a monster.

How did Achille Reggiani prepare for the role?
It was important for him to concentrate. He isolated and he prepared for all the phases in the development of the character all at once. The shooting was quite hectic and we had to do all the scenes in the elevator or all the scenes in the driveway at the same time, even though they do not happen in chronological order in the script.

How did you find him and why did you like him to play the role?
He is my son and a theatre actor. I saw him play on stage in some really powerful roles. It was important to find a professional distance through our work.

What was your inspiration for the decor of the apartment of the protagonist's father?
I wanted to make a reference to the topic of colonialism. The apartment is completely baroque, very frightening. It's a place of terror and fear also for the protagonist, when he steps in for the first time. Afterwards, he appropriates it, he puts on his father's vest and becomes a version of him.

Most of the story is set during nighttime. The colours you use are dark ones. What were the most important aspects for the visual concept of the film?
Since it is an underground bowling alley, you never exactly know if it's day or night time. I liked that. As for the aesthetics of the film, I wanted to use all the elements and means of a film noir. The two women should represent light. One goes out, one flees. Both of them had to be as lively as possible.

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