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Élise Girard: "Today's films don't last"

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French filmmaker Élise Girard, who’s participating in the Rellumes International Comeptition with her romantic comedy Strange Birds, spoke with the media this morning in a new edition of the Toma 3 FICX Vermuts.
Strange Birds tells the story of a young woman (Lolita Chammah) who arrives at Paris and falls in love with an old grumpy librarian (Jean Sorel), whose age makes it a platonic love. Girard's interest resided in making it to “show the tale in a different way than what we usually see on this type of films”. Thus, far from falling into romantic clichés, her film registers “moments where they are not necessarily together, or they are but they don’t speak to each other”, and shows the dialogue between them with a literary Marguerite Duras-type voice-over.

The main character, George, works in a bookshop and has a hidden past, which Strange Birds reveals little by little. “For me it was interesting to give him a second life, surrounded by all the stories contained in the books”, said Girard, who is an avid reader herself. “It’s part of my daily life, and I think people who read regularly are different, because we are affected by those stories. I wanted to show all that inner life”, she said.

On top of that literary universe, the second fiction film by Girard has a long list of cinema references. “What has nurtured me doesn’t have a direct influence during filming, but it’s part of my universe and I’m sure it shows in my works”. One of these allusions is the cinema comeback after a long absence of Jean Sorel, Catherine Deneuve’s husband in Belle de jour (1967). “He’s 82 years old and it’s incredible the elegance he keeps transmitting. I was afraid something could happen to him while filming, but it was very easy working with him”.

As a cinema lover, the author confessed she likes “watching over and over films I really like”, but she doesn’t find as many incentives in modern cinema. “I think there’s no interesting cinema left to film”, because “today’s films don’t last, no one remembers something from five years ago”. She made some exceptions, like Brisseau, Garrel, Polanski or Mann”.

Regarding her works, Girard is clear that “they’re not going to revolutionize cinema”, and that’s why she always faces her projects “very happy, with a lot of passion and using the old methods”. She believes having “the energy necessary to make a film”, and although her production teams are not usually numerous, she said she’d have liked to be a painter to “work more calmly and alone”.

Sergio de Benito
Palabras clave Festival de Cine, 2017