Jérémie and Yannick Renier • Directors
"We engage viewers and make them want to lose their bearings"
by Aurore Engelen
- We met up with Belgian actor-directors Jérémie and Yannick Renier on the occasion of the release in Belgium of their first film, Carnivores
We’re fairly familiar with the actors Jérémie and Yannick Renier. Jérémie first made an appearance at Cannes at the same time as the Dardenne brothers with La Promesse in 1996, while Yannick was discovered around the same time in the historical saga Les Steenfort. The two brothers have developed in parallel, one on the big screen and the other on stage, before uniting in 2007 in front of the camera in Joachim Lafosse’s Private Property [+see also:
film profile]. They promised to work together again, and thus went about creating their first feature film together, Carnivores [+see also:
interview: Jérémie and Yannick Renier
film profile], the story of two sisters with a passion for acting, who both struggle to take the spotlight. The film is due to hit Belgian cinemas on 11 April, after its release in France on 28 March.
Cineuropa: How did the desire to direct a film as a duo come about?
Jérémie Renier: We really wanted to work together again after Private Property and we thought it was pretty obvious that we should draw inspiration from our experiences as siblings, as well as our profession.
Yannick Renier: Jeremy always had a camera in his hands, I wanted to write. Ultimately, we’re very different, but we also complement each other well. Dividing up tasks was very natural and instinctive. We also both want to get our hands on a bit of everything!
How did the subject matter develop?
YR: The writing process was fairly progressive. We delved into the heart of sibling relationships with a lot of love, humour, pleasure, as well as the love-hate relationship you can have with someone that you are deeply connected to, but who is also a rival. We do the same job and are therefore pitted against each other in our family and in our professional environment. It's a fascinating subject, and one that has the potential to be tackled in many different ways, from comedy to tragedy.
JR: The title refers to the carnivorous side that can sometimes emerge in the younger sister, who takes up a lot of space and devours the people she loves. But you also come to realise that the most carnivorous of the two is perhaps the sister that is hiding in the shadows...
Was the idea also to blur the lines and mix up the genres a bit?
YR: We wanted to blur the lines between different genres from the get-go, in order to prevent the film from being directly labelled a psychological drama, road film, horror film, or thriller. We wanted the film to take a new path and lead the audience where it doesn’t expect to be lead, engaging viewers more and making them want to lose their bearings.
JR: We wanted to leave behind naturalist and anecdotal film in order to make a larger film, a real show. The audience also needs to have fun and the film need to go beyond a simple reflection on siblings.
You also talk about the moral limits of creation?
JR: The character of Paul Borsek is a hands-on director, filmmaker, visual artist, a sort of imaginary perfect artist. He also adopts the role of the father figure, the person that the siblings want to impress. We wanted to twist this and make him a character who takes advantage of this situation to create an (additional) rivalry between the sisters. There is a real perversity to his work, which we have experienced as actors.
YR: One of the questions you have to ask yourself when you create something is whether or not the end result justifies the means. Can we push an actor to his or her limit to make him or her beautiful on screen? It's a question that was bothering us! This duo between the director and Sam turns into a trio when Mona, who becomes disloyal towards her sister when she approaches the father figure, whose love she seeks at all costs.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.