Catherine Corsini • Director of Homecoming
"I wanted to make a film with new faces of the kind we see too little in French cinema, despite the fact that they are very present in our society"
- CANNES 2023: Sun, Corsica, summer flings, family secrets: the French director tells us about her new film, which competes for the Palme d’or
Selected five times on the Croisette, Catherine Corsini has revealed her new film, Homecoming [+see also:
interview: Catherine Corsini
film profile], in competition at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Homecoming centres on a mother and her two daughters, aged 15 and 18. What made you want to take a particular interest in these young people of today?
Catherine Corsini: I wanted to give them a voice, because I have the feeling that there is this young generation today that’s very angry about everything that is happening, and that may be feeling extremely lonely regarding their parents. Like many youth movements, each era has its own particularities and this is why I worked with a young screenwriter (Naïla Guiguet). There is a cultural diversity. things that have progressed on LGBT rights since gay marriage and MeToo, a lot of transformation. I also wanted this young generation to be the reflection of what happens today in a family when there is a class defector on one side, and on the other, a sister who doesn’t think she will make it, and therefore adopts a rebellious position. There is also something timeless about youth: the awakening of the senses and the first loves, except that the palette is much larger. At the same time, there are still questions of territory and identity at work in society, and which are perhaps even sharper because they are less hidden, since kids can express themselves, have a better awareness of what is going on, and can talk about it more. Finally, I also wanted to make a kaleidoscopic portrait of a young bourgeois generation that goes on holiday and has its own habits, and another young generation for whom seeing the sea still is something remarkable. But I also wanted to make a film with new faces of the kind we see too little in French cinema, despite the fact that they are very present in our society.
Why did you mix this together with a more personal story about Corsica and the absence of a father?
I wanted to work on familiar terrain, I wanted something of myself to be expressed, as I do every time I make a film. There is indeed a personal story of a return to a place that I was separated from when I was a little girl. My father died when I was very young, I lived with my mother, and she was afraid that Corsicans would take me away. My Corsican family was presented to me as evil, oppressive, etc. That’s why it took me several years to return to Corsica and to grieve this father because, as Jessica says in the film, when you don’t have any memories, it’s much more difficult to forget. I had no memories of my father, only pictures, and it was hard to forget, hard not to fantasise and imagine things. The film is also about that: the traces, the families that don’t tell each other everything, living in half-lies; trying to protect children but ultimately not handing out a clear truth to them, which creates a lack, a flaw, a wound that becomes harder and harder to close as time passes.
How did you work on the three personal storylines of the mother and the daughters, together and on their own, all the while creating suspense?
It’s a summer film, a film where each of the three women find their sexuality, something to do with their own desire. Each one therefore had this drive, for one summer, which for Farah (Esther Gohourou) and Jessica (Suzy Bemba) is the time of their first loves, or at least of their first attempts, which are completely different from one another. And for their mother, Kheididja (Aïssatou Diallo Sagna), this return brings out a lot about the past and a sort of reconciliation which likewise happens through the body. I wanted to tense up each story. Kheididja brings her daughters to Corsica, so she has already unconsciously let go of something: she knows she is taking the risk that her daughters might want to know more about her past. The film follows these three destinies, these three stories which will all find their own way of being independent, but which in the end will return towards an appeasement, something more conclusive, stronger, with more bite.
(Translated from French)
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