Frédéric Sojcher • Director of Le Cours de la Vie
“The cathartic aspect of cinema is magical”
- The Belgian filmmaker based in France tells us about his fifth feature, which received the Cineuropa Award at the Love International Film Festival Mons
With Le Cours de la Vie [+see also:
interview: Frédéric Sojcher
film profile], which just received the Cineuropa Award at the Love International Film Festival Mons, Frédéric Sojcher puts his love of cinema into images and stories, through the love story – resurrected for the space of a film lesson – between Noémie, a successful screenwriter, played by Agnès Jaoui, and Vincent, director of a film school, played by Jonathan Zaccaï.
Cineuropa: What are the origins of the project?
Frédéric Sojcher: Four years ago I bumped into an old friend of mine who had just written a rather unusual book on screenwriting, which explored how our lives can be transformed into a story. I suggested that he adapt the book into film, adding a love story. It was obvious to us from the start that the screenwriter should be a woman. I thought it would be great if Agnès Jaoui agreed to play this role, as an actress, screenwriter and director. I sent her the script by email, she was very enthusiastic, and asked if she could contribute to the writing of the section of the script about her character’s screenplay course, so that the words of Noémie, the character, would be in line with what she thinks of writing...
Noémie's work highlights the fact that thinking or seeing a film is also a way of placing a magnifying mirror in front of our traumas or neuroses?
One of the characteristics of the human being is this need to tell stories, there is not on one side the imaginary and on the other the real world, there are permanent bridges between the two, conscious or unconscious. Making films means telling a story, but also trying to understand how the world works, how human relationships work. What is magical is that you can have an entertaining film, take pleasure in seeing it, and come away with emotions or questions, that it enriches you. This cathartic aspect of cinema is magical.
Transmission is also at the heart of the story, from the teacher to the students, but also from the students to the teacher.
It is important for our society that there is not on one side the young, and on the other the old. Let the transmission take place. And that the dialogue goes both ways. It is important to me that the world is not divided. Young people are very comfortable with issues related to the relationship between men and women, and this renewal is precious. Provided, of course, that we don't turn the page on everything that has gone before.
What is the place of the love story for you in the dynamics of the story?
In fact, I would like the film to be perceived as a romantic film. First of all, from the script's point of view, we understand from the start that Noémie is not only coming to give a master class, she is also meeting a former lover, with whom something has not been settled. Her course is the subject of a subtext, linked to their common history. And above all, it is a romantic film because it underlines how love can give confidence. Noémie explains that if she managed to become a screenwriter, it was thanks to the confidence that Vincent's love gave her. One of the possible definitions of love is how it makes us give confidence to the other.
Was it a challenge to stage this part of the film, the script lesson, in a closed, rather static place?
We worked a lot on the staging. For example, during the lessons, the more theoretical part of the film is shot in a square format (the format used for filming), while the more emotional sequences are in a format close to scope. There is also the work on the sound: at the mixing stage, we chose to change the sound spatialisation according to the format, rather than playing with continuity. We looked for rhythm and relief through the image and the sound. With my cinematographer Lubomir Bakchev, our slightly crazy idea was that there would not be a single identical shot throughout the film, to avoid fatigue. The other big challenge was the music. We wanted to show film clips, but we didn't have the budget for the rights. So I had the idea that you don't see the extract but the spectators watching it, and that it is thanks to the music imagined by Vladimir Cosma that you can guess the genre of the film.
The real bet was that the film should speak to everyone, that there should be no need for theoretical knowledge to follow. That you wouldn't get bored too, of course, and that you would be moved. And even that you’d cry at the end...
(Translated from French)
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