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Lucie Borleteau • Director

"I believe in feminism, but making movies using feminism is propaganda"


- French director Lucie Borleteau makes her debut in feature films with Fidelio, Alice's Journey, winner of Best Actress Award and Europa Cinemas Label in Locarno.

Lucie Borleteau  • Director

Even though she’s already well-acquainted with the Cannes Film Festival, this 67th edition of the Locarno Film Festival is the first time that French Lucie Borleteau is competing with one of her films. Fidelio, Alice’s Journey [+see also:
film review
interview: Lucie Borleteau
film profile
is her first feature film. It tells the story of a woman who works on the high seas while her fiancé awaits her on land. When she steps onboard the Fidelio, she returns to her first boat and to her first love, captain Gaël. This inner voyage on the open seas is completed when she reads the diary of the person who occupied her cabin before her. The director chose Ariane Labed to bring the lead character to life. Labed was winner of the Copa Volpi for best actress in Venice in 2010 and omnipresent at the Swiss competition, as she also played a leading role in another competition movie, Love Island [+see also:
film review
film profile
by Bosnian Jasmila Zbanic.

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Cineuropa: In this story you deal with very intimate themes, like love and commitment. What did you base the story on?
Lucie Borleteau: Firstly I was inspired, many years ago, by my best friend. She dreamed of working on a boat and succeeded. Now she’s a mechanical engineer onboard a boat. I started thinking about her and that’s how the ideas started to appear. Then I decided to take a boat myself across the Atlantic, in order to understand the situation that my character would be subjected to. I was the only woman and the only French person travelling onboard. The part about the diary came about because of a skipper I know. I discovered that this person wrote a logbook and I was inspired by the fact that someone with such a difficult life had a poetic side, so I included it in the movie. 

Faced with so many personal experiences, choosing the actress to play these out onscreen must have been particularly difficult. How did you choose Ariane Labed for the role?
In theory it was a difficult decision. I spent so much time preparing the movie that I knew the character inside out and I knew what I wanted, so I had a very short list of actresses in mind. Ariane was among the top choices. When I met her it turned out that she lived beside the person whom the story was based on, she seemed very enthusiastic about the script and while we were doing some test shots with the camera I realised that she was the one. In the end it was an easy choice. The most difficult character to be included in the cast was the boat that we would film on (laughs).

Before making your debut in feature films with this movie you’ve directed three medium-length films. Why didn’t you take the usual route of making short films first?
Because they didn’t work out for me! I’ve never felt comfortable with the format for shorts. I’m incapable of filming a movie that doesn’t develop a story and so they all turned out to be at least 20 minutes. I admire those who can manage to do it. I can’t. I’ve done some very different things in that field. Medium-length films have given me a lot of opportunities. From directing a documentary in Russia to a legend set in medieval times.

You could say that Why not, the producer that financed the movie has been your very own film school.
Absolutely! I never studied film formally. I began working in Why not as an intern knowing nothing about production. Once there I had the opportunity to work with Claire Denis and I became her assistant and worked on her movies with her for four years. Then I thought about making my own movies and I decided to look for financing and to produce them with Why Not. When I started to focus on Fidelio and to write the script I decided to leave my job at the film producer, but my bosses became interested in the project. I had already worked on my latest medium-length film with Aspera Films and they also participate in this project. They’re very different from each other, and so the its presence was key and crucial for this idea to work out.

What did you learn while working with Claire Denis?
All of the work that’s behind a movie. That filming can be really enjoyable and really painful at the same time because anything can happen. That, once a movie has been filmed, the editing process can be much longer than what anyone might imagine (writing the film beforehand can also be much longer than expected). We’re very different. 

Agnès Varda, awarded at this Locarno edition, and Denis herself are two exponents of feminism, but they don’t believe in feminist cinema. What is your stance in that regard?
I believe in feminism, but I think that making movies using feminism is propaganda, not art. And that’s not my job at the moment. Certainly, this movie conveys the theme of women doing a “male” job, but it’s dealt with normally, not from a point of view of a woman’s’ fight for recognition.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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