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CANNES 2024 Directors’ Fortnight

Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel • Directors of Eat The Night

"The characters fight with their own means against this ambient depression which assails an entire era"


- CANNES 2024: The French filmmakers talk about their second feature, a daring hybrid work with a whiff of the end of the world about it

Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel • Directors of Eat The Night
(© Ph. Lebruman)

Unveiled during the Directors' Fortnight at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, Eat The Night [+see also:
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interview: Caroline Poggi and Jonathan…
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is the second feature film by French filmmakers Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel.

Cineuropa: Where did the idea for this film come from, oscillating between the real world and the virtual world of a video game?
Jonathan Vinel: We wanted to make a film in the real world, unlike Jessica Forever [+see also:
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, which aimed to create a virtual world in the real world. Here, we wanted to anchor the film geographically, which is why we shot in Le Havre. The film is also a little more narrative, mixing a lot of desires and wishes, and segmented by the announcement of the end of a video game server, which structures the whole film.

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Did you create a video game for the occasion? How did you go about it?
Caroline Poggi: We had a small budget of auteur films, so we had to find the means to create this game without going through a big studio. But we've been familiarising ourselves with 3D for several films now, and over time we've found our own team - people under 30 who have taught themselves a bit about 3D. It was them, along with a few occasional contributors, who took it all on themselves with us. It took 13 months.

What about the end-of-the-world atmosphere, both in the game and in real life?
JV: We didn't want to make a nihilistic film. It's simply realistic and obvious: the world is in a bad way. We live every day with end-of-the-world countdowns in the media: the extinction of species, climate change, the suicide rate among young people, which has almost doubled recently in France, and so on. The idea of the film is how, in this climate, we still try to move towards the light. The characters fight with what they have against the prevailing depression that besets an entire era, and they have the desire to get out of it. But the film is still a tragedy because they are trapped in this system.

A dream life in video games and drug dealing as the driving force behind the realistic plot: did you want to talk about addiction?
CP: No. We're gamers ourselves. It's a new language, a way of life for a whole generation. Of course, at a certain point, when you go to extremes, everything becomes harmful. But the world becomes so hard and isolates us so much that when we enter these universes, things become simpler: they are shelters where it's easy to go, to meet people, to put your feelings and your intimate journey into them. But at the extremes, this can annihilate real emotions: you can unload your anger in a game and no longer be revolted in life. And there's always a danger of losing yourself in it. It's the same with drugs, although in the film it's ecstasy, a drug that chemically recreates happiness. But there is a void in the world that needs to be filled. Added to this is the idea of making do in an “Uberised” world that offers so few possibilities.

JV: We've tried not to take a moral view of what's out there. There are a lot of clichés about video games, like saying that when there are riots, video games are the ones that have transformed young people. On the contrary, and one study has shown this, games allow us to let go of the violence in the world and avoid it happening in the real world. There is almost a therapeutic effect in the excessive violence of games.

CP: As for drugs, they can be both poisons and remedies.

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(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)

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