How did you come up with the idea of the encounter and the kidnapping in Parades?
I wanted an encounter between order and disorder, a confrontation between the law and disobedience. Lionel’s kidnapping and the blow to the head, that is anarchy knocking the law out.
How did you construct these two characters? What did you like about their distinctive personalities?
I constructed these characters on the basis of antithesis. A man-bird who knows how to whistle but who cannot speak and a woman-fish whose words are like pebbles thrown into the sea. The idea was to set up an encounter between two characters who were complete opposites and who didn’t fit into the common perception of what is normal. Two people with difficulties functioning in the real world. Margot no longer finds a place in society because she is too demanding and her ideal of justice is excessive. She was so desperate to change things that her powerlessness made her crack. Beneath her tractor-trailer appearance lies real distress, and the story of the fortune-telling fish is a sign that she is drifting away from the shores of reason. Lionel, on the other hand, needs order to exist. Being a guide allows him to avoid communicating with those humans who scare him. I wanted his ornithological passion to also represent a means of escape for him. Finally, they are two characters who, in taking a step towards each other, take a step closer to reality.
Are you particularly fond of natural spaces? Do you think they should be protected, and in your opinion, how far can this protection go?
Yes, I am very fond of natural spaces, but they also scare me. All of my films take place in the countryside, whereas I live in town. For me, a natural decor lends itself more to distancing ourselves from a certain realism and allows me to address questions that interest me with more freedom. However, in this film, the space is not a natural one. It is an artificial lake that I see as a metaphor of the world. We steamroll the minority to turn a profit, beneath the guise of good intentions. I am thankful for those who fight at Notre Dame des Landes, in Val de Susa in Italy, at Bure in the Meuse, and everywhere else, to protect that which should be protected by the French government and by Europe. I am probably naive, but I don’t understand why it always falls on private citizens to defend these natural spaces when there should be a political resolve to do this. The protection of our natural spaces is not an ecological question, it is a question of freedom.
Do you have a particular fascination for birds, their displays and/or their songs?
It’s funny, the first title of this project was I Don’t Like Birds. No, I don’t have any particular attraction for birds. I don’t know enough about them. I don’t understand their language, I find them lacking emotion, they have round, cold eyes… on the other hand, I have watched lots of videos of the mating rituals of birds and I was fascinated by certain plumages, some of them quite dense. For me, those kinds of birds have something “shamanic” about them! But the great crested grebe mentioned in the film is not that attractive. It looks like a toilet brush… What interested me was to find inspiration in the burlesque behavior of animals.
Are you interested in the theme of human relations and do you foresee making other films based on that theme?
Is every film not essentially based on the theme of human relations? At the moment, I am working on writing a feature-length film that takes place once again in a rural setting and where the presence of animals has an important role. Overall, the question that interests me in my characters is “what part of the savage still persists within us” and how does that part resonate among us?
What sort of freedom would you say the short format allows?
The freedom to not worry about how it sells to the public. I have always taken the public into account, but the lack of pressure regarding the number of tickets a short film has to sell gives me the freedom to follow my intuition and to not worry as much about whether it will please the public or not. The short film allows me to experiment and take risks. With Parades for example, I wanted to approach dialogue and comedy in a “beyond deadpan” style like the films of Hal Hartley. I also wanted to work on the ridiculous and on satire without knowing whether or not I would succeed. For me, the short film allows a filmmaker to move forward with creativity, intuition, and curiosity. I hope that I can continue in that vein on my next projects.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
This is my first time at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival. I hope to see films that inspire my work, to meet and get to know film professionals and artists, and to meet the public and get their thoughts on the different films being shown.