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CANNES 2024 Quinzaine des Cinéastes

Patricia Mazuy • Regista di La prisonnière de Bordeaux

“Non conosciamo il mondo dei rifugi, dove le donne sono insieme e sole allo stesso tempo"


- CANNES 2024: La cineasta francese spiega come il suo film esplori i sentimenti che si sviluppano tra una donna dell'alta borghesia e una ragazza proletaria i cui mariti sono in carcere

Patricia Mazuy • Regista di La prisonnière de Bordeaux
(© Alexandre Ean)

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Discovered in the Directors’ Fortnight within the 77th Cannes Film Festival, Visiting Hours [+leggi anche:
intervista: Patricia Mazuy
scheda film
is the 6th fiction feature film offered up by Patricia Mazuy.

Cineuropa: What attracted you to this screenplay?
Patricia Mazuy: The circumstances these two women first find themselves in are powerful. We’re not familiar with the world of visiting rooms, a world where they’re together but all alone. It also explored two clichés relating to the class struggle which could be depicted directly on screen, so we didn’t need any scenes with dialogue on this subject, because seeing the house where Alma (Isabelle Huppert) lives would already make things clear. But I wanted something to happen in the relationship between these two women, something à la Donald Westlake and which I’d rather not talk about so as not to spoil the film.

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The men are in prison, the women are outside but, in reality, it’s a prison for them too.
We feel like they’re in prison because they have to attend these visits. I thought it was interesting to show this prison from the outside but, at the same time, it’s like the men are in a box. Cinematographically speaking, it’s a powerful metaphor. What took time to refine was the demarcating of each of these women, to turn them into characters so that the actresses felt they had something to act out and that they weren’t just figures. For example, in Good Mother [+leggi anche:
intervista: Hafsia Herzi
scheda film
by Hafsia Herzi, there were scenes set in visiting rooms, so she knows them well, just like she knows housing estates well. But she told me that men in visiting rooms are often horrible, they force the women to come along. So I decided that I wanted her to be a heroine and I thought it would be lovely for her to be in love, which isn’t normal because visiting rooms wear you down. So I entrusted this love to Isabelle Huppert, whose character is incredibly complicated: she’s kind, she floats through life, and I wanted her performance to be in keeping with an Italian vitality along the lines of Marco Ferreri, because the story is actually so sad, it could have been lethal. She loves her husband but it’s now become more of an idea. I found it tragic and beautiful to depict, but we had to combine it with the fact that it’s Hafsia’s character who drives the action in a certain sense, whereas Isabelle’s drives the metaphysical side of the film.

What about the relationship between the two women?
I knew that their friendship would have to be a strong one. It was established in the screenplay: Mina defends Alma when the women in the visiting room want to silence her, Alma invites Mina into her home. But these acts alone don’t create the close friendship; we worked on this on set and in the editing room, creating a balance between the two of them. But they’re interlinked because when you’re with one of them, you want to see the other and vice versa.

Is it unusual for you to make a female-focused film like this, with so much affection?
It’s a film about love, because the men are locked up while the two women are together in a relationship which will mark them for life. I limited the time they spend together to less than a month, because, otherwise, the story would have felt too diluted. It had to be tight, because there’s not a lot that happens, especially for me, given that I usually like beat-‘em-up films. But we get an off-camera shot of Mina’s life when she sees Yassine and her husband, and brief flashes of Alma’s life which she offers up little by little. We didn’t want to step outside of real time, we wanted to be firmly in the present of each and every scene, and for each of them to have a sense of motion. And for there to be comedy, so that it stayed alive and so that the film wasn’t didactic, because there’s nothing more boring than that.

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(Tradotto dal francese)

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