OLLA answers an ad on a dating website for Eastern European women. Shortly thereafter, she moves in with Pierre who lives with his elderly mother and things don't go as expected.
Hi Ariane thanks for talking to TNC, are you all set for the festival?
I’m all set thank you but unfortunately I’m only staying at Sundance for 3 days.
With a festival like Sundance will you ever get any nervous ahead of your films screening?
I'm always nervous before, during and after the screenings. Wherever it is and whoever is watching, I get nervous. It’s true too when I act. Showing my own film is more intimidating. I cannot hide myself behind anything. But of course at the same time, those moments are also full of joy.
OLLA has had an amazing festival run since starting at the Directors Fortnight at Cannes, what was that experience like for you?
I never imagined that Olla would have such a première. I was only happy that we actually made it. That was my first and only goal to be honest. But then you start sending it to festivals and hope that people might see it...Directors Fortnight was an amazing start and I still can't believe it. I was very intimidated at the screening and I couldn't talk properly when I introduced it, I made mistakes in my own language! But it was very moving because a big part of my cast and crew was there and I couldn't dream of a best way to thank them.
"I wanted to play with the physicality that is necessary to communicate when people don't speak the same language."
Can you tell me a little bit about OLLA, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
First I wanted to adapt a short story by Kundera but I didn't get the rights. So I tried to understand what really interested me in that story to finally realize that I was hiding behind the idea of an adaptation. I ended up writing a screenplay that had nothing to do with the short story. I knew I wanted to talk about the profession I was more familiar with in film (being an actor), and also about the lack of communication, everyday violences and desire. All of that with humour when possible. I tried to create a situation where a man projects very specific ideas on a woman. This woman accepts to be “cast” in a role in which she subsequently feels trapped and so she decides not to play it anymore. I wanted to play with the physicality that is necessary to communicate when people don't speak the same language. I tried to give space for the viewer to look at their own behaviour and with a different perspective. I knew from the beginning that the title would be the main character's name. I tried to create a proper hero, a woman who follows her instinct and desire even if it might be against the notion of morality.
With OLLA being your debut short film as a director how did this all come about?
I always wanted to direct. I studied theatre and wanted to become a director. I co-created a theatre group where we worked more or less as a collective and I always enjoyed acting. It just took me a long time to finally feel more secure to admit that I wanted to direct movies.
What was the most challenging scene for you to shoot?
The rape scene. I had something very specific in mind but I really didn't know if it would work. The idea for Olla to be paralyzed by laughing and the twist for the viewer to start with something playful to something horrible was the biggest challenge for me.
As a writer/director has it been hard to ‘let go’ of your film once it’s wrapped or do you hold on to it thinking ‘I should/could have done that differently?
I still think "I should/could" have done things differently but I also know that it comes from the fact that it took me almost 2 years to arrive to the first shoot day and then we only had 5 days of shooting. That's the way many shorts films are made and it's part of the game.
"Only you have the answers and you are free to try everything. There is not just one way to do cinema."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
No, it started when I did my first film as an actor (Attenberg by Athina Tsangari). I was fascinated by the process of creating a film.
How much has your background as an actress helped you move behind the camera and helm OLLA?
I know acting and directing are very different crafts but I never felt Olla was my first film. I am always interested in the filmmaking process when I'm acting. I learned a lot on set, looking at every department. My experience as an actor helped me a lot on creating the characters and on directing the actors. I want to keep doing both as I really believe that those two crafts are complimentary.
Before you started shooting did any directors you’ve worked with in the past offered you any advice?
They only told me when I had a question that the only one having the answer is me. That was actually very useful!
What do you think has been the most important lesson you’ve taken after making OLLA?
That I want to do a feature film and that I was right to insist on shooting in s16mm.
Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow writer/director?
As other directors told me, follow your instinct, it's your story. Only you have the answers and you are free to try everything. There is not just one way to do cinema.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from OLLA?
I don’t know how to answer that. I hope they intuitively understand Olla and I hope they will feel like dancing.