30th FID Marseille | 2019
" It was capital to work with people I knew, and who accepted the way of doing this movie."
CHANSON TRISTE (SAD SONG) | Dir. Louise Narboni | Comepétition INTERNATONALE
Première Mondiale / World Premiere
Between documentary and fiction, the crude and the coded, contingency and devices, in short, between the raw and the cooked, there has always been a short-circuit, a striking short cut, impurity.
Hello Louise many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
I am fine, I look forward to going to Marseille soon!
Are you looking forward to bringing Sad Song to FID 2019?
Yes of course. That will be the first time I will present the movie, we have not even yet shown it to all the actors or friend. So I am happy with a little bit of stage fright…
What does this festival mean to you?
Since the movie is finished, with my producer Aurélien Deseez, we secretly imagined that the team of the FID could support the film. However, when Jean-Pierre Rehm called me to announce he selected the movie, it was such a surprise and a good new, that I remember at the moment when he talked to me about the movie, I blushed of joy!
This will be your World Premiere & Sad Song is part of the French Competition, does this add any extra pressure on you?
Yes, but hopefully, I won't’ be alone. My producer, and my two actors Elodie Fonnard and Ahmad Shinwari will be with me. So, whatever happens, we are happy to have this first experience together.
Do you still get nerves ahead of your screening?
I am always nervous just before, telling me internally: you have searched for it!
Can you tell me a little bit about Sad Song, what can we expect?
It is the story of a singer and an Afghan refugee, with a lot of music, love and disenchantment.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
The starting point was my wish to film Elodie Fonnard when she told me she was getting active to help refugees people.
"It is a surprising story and very inspiring for a movie."
How did you get introduced to Elodie & Ahmed?
I had met Elodie a long time ago when she started her career as the singer in a choir of an opera where I was assistant of the director.
Many years after we met again on a concert I filmed and she had become a soloist in the baroque ensemble of William Christie, les Arts florissants. Then, I asked her to participate in a baroque experimental movie. We became very close friends and we wanted to make another film together. Then, she met Ahmad through an association, she introduced me to him, and as evidence, the film began.
What was it about their life, story and experiences that interested you as a filmmaker?
It was very beautiful to observe how sensitive they were in their relationship mostly based at the very beginning on a musical dialogue. They discovered each other through the songs, baroque for her, Pashtun for him. It is a surprising story and very inspiring for a movie. We decided that music could be a counterpoint to the dramatic situation of Ahmad.
The approach you have taken to making Sad Song is very much in a classic French filmmaking style, bold, touching, honest and heartfelt, how did you begin to approach making this film?
I was honestly touched by them, and I am really happy if it is palpable in the movie. During the shooting, we were a very small team, all very close, living in the house of the décor, sleeping there. It has helped us to build confidence in everyone.
What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?
As soon as I met Ahmad, it was an emergency to do it even if we had no money at all to do it. We did not know if he could stay in France, what would happen to him. We were afraid. And we wanted to have a trace of our strong meeting.
How important is the collaborative nature in filmmaking for you?
My producer is my best friend, Raphaël O’Byrne, the operator and Hélène Martin, the sound engineer, are very good friends too. It was capital to work with people I knew, and who accepted the way of doing this movie. For example, there was a lot of improvisation each day in the dialogues and also in the situations, and often, when I was suggesting the first ideas, Raphael completed it naturally.
All three with Elodie and Ahmad have imagined the scenario from their reel story, and Elodie also wrote a large part of the text. Without both of them, the movie could not have existed.
How different is this film to your previous works?
Even if my short previous movies are born like this one, on the strong desire to film someone I like, Sad Song plays more with the confines between documentary and fiction. And because fiction interfered, I had more to think about the progress of the narration than before.
Has your approach to your film changed much since your debut film?
It didn’t change a lot, the difficulty was during the editing to find a good way to organize the two levels of the movie: on the one side the scenes between Elodie and Ahmad that passed, and on the other side, the voice-over of Elodie, which is kind of a letter she offers him retrospectively.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Already in high school, I was learning cinema, making short cuts. I continued at the university and in parallel, I have studied lyrical singing. After my studies, I mostly filmed classical concerts, operas, and contemporary dance. And now, in parallel of these, I make intimates movies like this one.
Looking back is there anything you would like to do differently or change?
I would have like to be an opera singer or a musician, but I had not the sufficient qualities to do it… so I have decided to film them!
I would have like to manage to write scenarios easily, but I had not the sufficient qualities… so I have decided to do movies without scenarios!
Do you have any advice for any emerging filmmaker?
I still think that I am an emerging filmmaker!
The important thing is to find the way that corresponds the best to you. In my case, it is easier now to reveal me that I quite the idea to try to write a movie “in the rules of art” and decide to make kind of home movies.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
The best would be that you had been moved by the story of both of the two characters. Or at least to one of them…