15th ÉCU Film Festival | 2020 
"We also wanted to attach great importance to the aesthetic aspect of the film, because Japan (and Japanese films in general) have a very marked aesthetic which we like very much."
Abigaëlle Michel
Student Film
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Kumagai, a veteran samurai is forced to kill a mysterious opponent on the battlefield. The memory of his deed keeps haunting him and is destroying him day after day.

Hi Abigaëlle thank you for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?

Hi ! I’m handling it quite fine, thank you ! I’m a very solitary person, so the lockdown is not too difficult  for me. I’m working on my novel !

As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative motivations? 

Yes, I’m spending most of my time working on my novel.

Your film Kumagai has been selected in the Student Category at the 2020 ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?

It’s an honour, really ! I’m very happy to see that Kumagai arouses so much interest.

How did you all meet?

We were in the same school.

What was the process like working together on a film like this?

It was challenging, exciting, and we all learned a lot from it!

With 5 of you directing Kumagai how important was the collaboration between you? 

It was a fundamental part, even if there were tensions at times. But it is a lot of teamwork ! We had to learn to work with people who had a different character, a different vision, and even if it was not always pleasant, it was very important to go through this kind of difficulties.

Will this be something you will consider doing again?

Why not, but with a different team and a different project.

Can you tell me a little bit about Kumagai, what was the inspiration behind this film? 

We wanted to tell a powerful story, and the legend of Kumagai (which already existed) was perfect for it. We also wanted to attach great importance to the aesthetic aspect of the film, because Japan (and Japanese films in general) have a very marked aesthetic which we like very much.

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing this Kumagai to life?

The geometric and aesthetic aspect, for sure.

What is it about Asian culture that interested you so much?

Personally, I had the chance to travel a lot in Asian countries when I was little, and I have always been fascinated by the culture, architecture, customs, which have nothing to do with our oriental ways. Asian countries have so many centuries of history and legends to tell … I think we all have a lot to learn from them.

Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently?

Haha! Lots of things…Pretty much everything ! But that means this experience taught me a lot about teamwork and all, so that’s a good thing!

"Alone we go faster, but together we go further".

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

I believe so. When I was younger, I remember making a short film with my friends (in real shooting) in my apartment…I was very professional about it haha ! I wrote a script, did some rehearsal, added some sound effects… It was a really fun experience!

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given when you started out?

I’m not sure someone really gave me this advice, but I would say "stay organized and persevere!"

Do you have any tips or advice to offer filmmakers about to make their first film?

Well, like I said, organization and perseverance are keys. But communication and empathy are quite important as well. Like we say in French, "Alone we go faster, but together we go further".

What are you currently working on?

My fantasy novel! My first passion, before animation, is writing. My goal is to be published one day!

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Kumagai?

We would like viewers, after watching the film, to think critically about what they saw. We would like them to debate: are honor and duty really more important than compassion? More than a message, it is this reflexion that we would like people to take away from our film.

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