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NAMUR 2023

Yolande Moreau • Director of The Jolly Forgers

"I like to explore serious or deep things, but through laughter"


- We met with the Belgian actress and filmmaker to discuss her poetic and melancholy tale which is an ode to the little lies we tell to make existence tolerable

Yolande Moreau  • Director of  The Jolly Forgers

We met with Belgian actress and filmmaker Yolande Moreau, who was at the 38th Namur International Francophone Film Festival (FIFF) presenting the Belgian premiere of her third feature film The Jolly Forgers [+see also:
film review
interview: Yolande Moreau
film profile
, which is a poetic and melancholy tale and an ode to the little lies we tell to make existence tolerable.

Cineuropa: How would you describe The Jolly Forgers in a few words?
Yolande Moreau:
It’s a poetic and political tale exploring our desire to beautify our lives, our need to lie when it comes to the small things to make our lives nicer.

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Who is this famous fiancée, Mireille?
She’s a young 70-year-old woman who’s returning to the family home after a forty-year absence, a home which she left to follow the man she loved who was a poet. She’s experienced a few setbacks, she’s a little bit disenchanted with life. She finds the house in its original state and finds lodgers to help her cover the costs. This return home allows Mireille to relive her youth. I really liked the idea of a 70-year-old playing someone’s fiancée.

She discovers other people who are also lonely, men who all have a secret, and they become her new family.
To begin with, I wanted to explore fakers, the little arrangements we have with the truth to help us lead happier lives. Each of my protagonists have a kind of duality about them. There’s a Turkish man without papers who passes himself off as an American: an impersonator, a faker. Everything is fake in the film, and that’s where I wanted to start. I’m an apologist for deception or lying when it makes life more bearable. Last week, a viewer said to me: "now I know the difference between a kilo of feathers and a kilo of lead. Your film is a kilo of feathers, and when I go back outside, it will feel like a kilo of lead". Reality is hard and we need to lift ourselves, to get back to human values, to put art and all the rest at the centre of our lives again. It’s actually a kind of fable, my little philosophical tale. A slightly libertarian fable which I think is political, because it speaks of believing in something other than the capitalist values which are forced upon us. It incites us to walk outside of the lines.

These little lies are also an open window onto beauty, through art.
I thought a lot about the pianist who played the piano amidst the ruins in Syria. Why do we find it so striking? Because it represents elegance, beauty and soul in the midst of the carnage created by men. We’re all in need of it.

Has writing your own role allowed you to investigate other fields of fiction?
I definitely indulged myself, writing the story and playing Mireille. It took me a while to work out why I wanted to tell this story. What interested me was the dream that lies behind these fakers. When we shot When the Sea Rises, we met Johnny Halliday’s double. He’d been dressing up as Johnny for years; he was almost living vicariously. It’s really alarming, but he was actually very happy. I found it fascinating.

In fact, Mireille creates a "fake" family for herself, a new family.
Yes, in fact Cyril, the young painter she takes in, tells her: "It’s a bit like a family here, but more subversive." Technically, it’s a house-share she creates for herself, as we’d say nowadays, but it’s more like a little community, gathering some very different people together who are all a little bit marginalised and who each have a duality about them. And there’s the deer in plaster too, a character in its own right, which she re-connects with. We have lively imaginations when we’re children. She’s reunited with the deer she used to speak to as a child. She confides in him, not least because the deer embodies wisdom and renewal.

The film has a very melancholy tone.
I didn’t think about tone to begin with. But it’s a register I’ve always liked; in Les Deschiens and Jérôme Deschamps’s work, serious subjects are explored light-heartedly. I like that, exploring serious or deep things, but through laughter.

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(Translated from French)

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