Jeanne Herry: “I believe in the release of emotions through speech” – Cinema
After “Pupille”, on childbirth under X and the difficulties of adoption, you approach the theme of restorative justice, little known to the public. For what ?
For a whole host of reasons, including that of discovering this promising device. I wanted to take advantage of the richness of cinema to film ten very different people in the same room, find the right cut, the right direction of the actors and bring this encounter between the victims and the aggressors to life. This mediation (physical or by exchange of letters) is the basis of restorative justice. Complex situations, strong in emotions, with high stakes for everyone, that’s what I looked for when writing the screenplay. Like a beautiful promise of fiction, of romance.
Anything that helps us to live collectively interests me
A device where speaking is essential for the participants, who take a stick in hand to express themselves. A way to ward off their burden, their pain?
Yes, speaking out is an important action because it is liberating. It’s about meeting, talking and fixing each other, if possible. I find this device very interesting because these are not fantasies but tools that exist, protocols put in place by professionals and which are, according to the participants and according to my research, extremely restorative. And anything that helps us live collectively interests me.
Does this restorative justice act as therapy?
Yes, it has therapeutic virtues, in a way, but not for everyone. It’s not a magic program, either. It’s complex but I believe that every human being needs to empty his bag, to be listened to. When we talk about our suffering, we also need to be respected. When you don’t express yourself, well, you don’t feel good, the mechanism doesn’t work.
In your film, this leads to very intense scenes, especially when Chloé (Adèle Exarchopoulos) agrees to see her brother who raped her.
It is one of the beating hearts of the film. Beyond the words, everything can be read on his face, the suffering, the anger, the waste, the incomprehension. During my research, one of the interlocutors I met said to me: “The objective of restorative justice is the release of emotions through speech”. I believe in this release of emotions, of fear, of suffering that I wanted to stage.
I also chose great actors because I have texts that are not easy to play
Isn’t “I will always see your faces” a kind of theatrical huis clos?
I don’t see it like that. It is a camera that I transform into a film. Confinement is just a device that becomes, for me, very cinematic. I come from the theater myself. In both cases, on stage or on a set, it is a question of directing actors.
Exactly, did your training at the Paris Conservatory of Dramatic Arts help you direct them?
Yes, the fact of having worked at the Conservatory with great teachers like Catherine Hiegel, Dominique Valadié was a very useful apprenticeship today. I learned their lesson. The game is a delicate, subtle practice that I know well. I’ve done a lot of plays and I understand what goes on in the minds of actors, no two of whom are alike, of course, and what they need to perform.
You benefit from a solid cast, three French actors – Biran Bra, Denis Podalydès, Suliane Brahim -, Leïla Bekhti, your mother Miou-Miou, Gilles Lellouche, Élodie Bouchez, Dali Benssalah, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and many others . What did they bring you?
Their richness, their diversity and the joy of working with athletes. They carry the vibrations of the film and I leave them plenty of room to play their part, to seize intense situations. My role is to capture them, to transcribe them. I felt in them a lot of desire, concentration and pleasure, including in the difficulty sometimes. I also chose great actors because I have texts that are not easy to play. As for my mother, it adds a little affect, but I simply try to be a good director in front of an actress who listens.
“I will always see your faces”, by Jeanne Herry, released in theaters on March 29.
letelegramme Fr Trans