The film is about a recovering drug addict, Michel, about his fight to break free of the hold drugs have on him, and on his relationship to fatherhood. Was it your ambition to explore the question of marginality in the film, to focus on a world that is seldom seen on the screen?
For three years, I’ve been writing a feature film with François, who plays Michel. François is my ex-father-in-law, and I’ve spent a lot of time with him over the last few years. The story is about his life as a recovering drug addict and the way he’s built himself back up to try to become a “good guy”. We wanted to bring his story to the screen together. I’m not sure it’s a film about marginality, it’s about people who interest me, who interest us. So, people on the fringes, yes, but essentially endearing, funny characters who show us a way to safety, a way out of that difficult grind, fighting to make it to the light.
Michel’s relationship to his ex-partner Hélène are sometimes hostile, and the same goes for his eldest son who partially rejects his way of life. All the same, it’s clear that these characters still love him, even though they don’t understand him. In terms of directing, how did you work to bring to light the complexity of the ties that bind the characters?
Roméo Creton, the actor who plays Léo, is François’ son, so I leaned heavily on real things. Since he’s not an actor, I tried to work on casualness, let him live and forget the camera. With actors like Youssef (Hajdi) and Romane [Bohringer], on the other hand, there’s very little that needs to be done. We just created a sense of intimacy using the emotions that were rooted in them as a guide. And then we simply searched together.
Is there a particular audience that you would like to reach through Beautiful Loser?
I wasn’t thinking about that question when I made the film since it was done in a flash. Initially, we did some trials for a feature film. Everything was completed in a few weeks. But I’d really like it if the film became popular because it deals with people who are generally the object of derision or are considered bothersome. Here, they’re endearing, full of humanity and a love of life. In that regard, I think it’s important that this film, or this type of film, have the largest audience possible, and definitely an audience that does not have occasion to rub elbows with these types of characters, to help them change their attitudes. When you don’t hang out in those types of facilities or at Alcoholics Anonymous, you cannot image you’ll discover such humanity.
In general, what do you think about the level of visibility of short films these days?
As such, they’re not something you see very often… It’s a shame that they’re not shown in theaters because you’re always surprised when you watch a short, you discover a style, a tone, and when they’re made with sincerity, precision and a coherent idea, you can discover the way the filmmaker looks at things. And it’s definitely an almost obligatory passage to make a short film if you want to make a feature. So you always have to be watchful that they remain free in their way of expressing things and being distributed.