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Olivier Masset-Depasse • Director

Cages at RomeFilmFest

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Olivier Masset-Depasse • Director

After two very successful short films (Chambre Froide and Dans l'Ombre), Oliver Masset-Depasse gets behind the camera once again, accompanied by his loyal producer (Versus) and his fetish actress, Anne Coesens, to make his new feature film. Cages [+see also:
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shows a couple, passionately in love, so in love than when her lover (Sagamore Stévenin) starts to steer away, Eve (Anne Coesens) decides to kidnap him so she can win him back. We met the young challenge-loving director on the set, which simulates a strange bar, full of dissected animals.

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Your first film is about a very violent conflict between a beautiful girl and her mother. Your second one follows a handicapped woman seeking a man’s love. And in this one, a girl tries to win back the man who she loves. Are you a person attracted by extreme passions?
Olivier Masset-Depasse: Yes, it’s the dark romanticism... taking psychological defects and putting them on film and looking at their inner aspect that interests me. This character is burning hot and wild, passionate to the max, like any woman or man in love would be. We never act in real life, yet we have thought about it. I part from my desire to show this. And, my influences steer me towards the search of it. I love Shakespeare; he is refined, yet complex and always extreme. He is one of my masters.

Is Cages built upon a classical dramaturgy kind of play with three acts?
At the moment, I'm trying to take things step by step. So yes, I’m basing it on a classical dramaturgy, in the Greek tragedy style, for instance. And, as the director that I am, I start from these interior images so I can develop them as much as possible. My goal is to enter inside the character’s deepest realm. The originality of the film – at least I’m aiming at that – is found in the spectator identifying himself with the kidnapper. There are many films about kidnappings, but the viewer is never on the perpetrator’s side. The challenge for me here is to make the audience identify itself with the perpetrator rather than with the hostage.

This interior that you mention, how does it translate in visual terms?
There aren’t many fixed shots. The film is done with a lot of traveling or with the camera on the shoulder. It’s a wild film. It’s all about staying as close as possible to the character, to vibrate with the character. I slow down, speed up or blur the image. I want a warm and sensual environment. This is why I wanted to shoot the film (laughs)! Technically speaking, it’s a very ambitious film for our budget, producers get too involved and dictate the whole film... I mean literally! There are technical challenges to overcome. It’s a great first feature film on a low budget. For the time being, I’m very glad because you can’t notice this. I’m not sure if this will play to our advantage or not... Even if I make arthouse films, I’m very American in technical terms. This film, I believe, will have about 500 shots, which are very many for a first full-length film. There are many cuts because I’m trying to create a genre: the psychological action film. I think that the future of filmmaking lies on transposing and mixing genres that normally aren’t found together. That’s my starting point. Anyway, it will be a true Belgian film.(smile)

Do you mean a real Belgian film?
Well, I mean bizarre, ambiguous, sometimes sick, broken up. I feel very close to Fabrice du Welz (Calvaire), to a more depictive and extreme cinema. I think this produces something different to what exists in Belgium. It’s not that I disrespect modern-day cinema. On the contrary, it pleases me to see something different being conceived, far from a documentary-style, distinct things to which I feel very close. Overall, it’s a phantasmagoric film, even if I think that I have made something more luminous thing than in my short-films. I’m happy about it, since I feel that I have a separation with regard luminosity. It will be less dark and rough; a less romantic film. In my short films, I filmed stories in matching tones: raw subjects in raw environments. This time around, I conceive a “sunny” film with which I can work on the counterbalancing: a story closer to a tragicomedy with a touch of melodrama, where aspects alternate. The bar, whether nerve-wrecking or amusing, is witness to the couple’s romantic story. It’s romanticism in the first degree. For once, I want to tell a not so happy story that takes place in broad daylight.

The character that is portrayed by Anne Coesens is wounded. In your previous work, your character has a bad foot. Is it a particularity of your films to show the psychological through the physical?
Yes, this has to come from my personal experience. Many years ago, I mutilated myself during the adolescent dark period of my life. This also comes from my cinematic influences, Tod Browning, David Lynch, David Cronenberg... they take interest in deformities and such. This is one part of the challenges I set for myself in this film: daring to do something different to the usual thing, more depictive, to survive on the limits of ridicule without falling in it. You can fall in, no one is completely impeccable (smile). But, that’s the challenge.

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