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Lidia Terki • Director

"There is a language beyond speech, and cinema is made for it"


- Algerian-born Lidia Terki, whose Paris La Blanche premiered at the Black Nights International Film Festival, speaks to Nisimazine about the universal language of cinema

Lidia Terki  • Director
(© BNFF)

Algerian-born director Lidia Terki, whose Paris La Blanche [+see also:
film review
interview: Lidia Terki
film profile
– a film that deals with the impact of immigration and the importance of family – premiered in the Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival's First Feature Competition, speaks to Nisimazine about her connection to the film’s story, the universal language of cinema and her journey towards becoming a director.

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Nisimazine: How much of a personal connection do you have to the story of Paris La Blanche?
Lidia Terki:
I don’t have a connection with the story itself, but I think each film is related to its author in one way or another. Paris La Blanche is a story about love, humanity and identity. I was born in Algeria to an Algerian father, but I have lived in France since I was little. Although it’s true that a large part of my family is Algerian, I barely know them and I don’t speak the language. It’s very strange when you think about it. I don’t think that when you leave your country, your culture, your parents or your children you experience any positive feeling, even if you do so in the hope of a better future.

Rekia is a very strong character who does not need to speak to express her emotions. Was it difficult to guide the actress towards this subtle performance?
I tend to believe that there is a language beyond speech, something subtle and instinctive, which does not need words to be spoken and which can be understood by anyone, no matter their culture. Cinema is made for this kind of language. Through it, you can focus on small moments that convey an idea, an impression or various degrees of emotion. The editing is the moment when you can add in a few extra images that contain this language that has an impact on us without us realising.

For me, the more instinctive the acting is, the more emotionally expressive it is. I’ve noticed that, very often, I simply have to put some rhythm down. Once the rhythm is set – and this is very strange because I cannot explain why I think it’s the right rhythm for me – everything happens naturally with the acting.

You have experience working in different areas of filmmaking. When was the moment you decided to become a director? Did you consider any other career before getting into filmmaking?
When I was about 12, I began to understand that behind a film there was a director, and I realised that I could actually become one. This idea never really left me, but there were not many women directors around. I did a lot of different jobs, and those were just ways for me to get closer to the movies, to understand what was a point of view and to hone my own point of view. I wasn't able to go to a film school. I learned as I went along, from the first moment I got into cinema. I started out in the decorating business, and that, for example, taught me what a frame was. I did a lot of jobs at various film companies that helped me get closer to the camera.

Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes, several, but I don’t yet know what will be done and how. It’s both risky and exhilarating because I constantly question each project. I have a lot of personal archives, so I'll have to make something out of them one day.

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