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VENICE 2018 Orizzonti

Mikhaël Hers • Director

Amanda is a film about the loss of points of reference”


- VENICE 2018: We sat down with writer-director Mikhaël Hers, whose Amanda is the story of a family and relationship that are forever changed by a terrorist attack

Mikhaël Hers  • Director
(© La Biennale di Venezia - foto ASAC)

Playing in the Orizzonti section of the Venice Film FestivalAmanda [+see also:
film review
interview: Mikhaël Hers
film profile
 is a contemporary film about trauma, both collective and individual, which deals with life before and after a terrorist attack. French director Mikhaël Hers talks about why he wanted to make a film about hope and human perseverance in the face of adversity.

Cineuropa: Amanda starts off like a classic French film, a little light and frivolous – one that we might have seen in the 1970s. Is this a little banal diversion?
Mikhaël Hers:
 You’re right, because it starts off with ordinary life, and so it seems very light, trivial and banal. Then it becomes a drama, and later on, it becomes even more dramatic. I think that your question stems from the fact that it’s shot on 16 mm, whereas today we are more used to digital, and so there is something very defined about that. In this case it is not, so this is why it makes you think about those films from the past.

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Was the idea to have a terrorist attack as a pivotal moment of change in the lives of the protagonists?
Actually, the film is not about terrorist attacks. The attack is connected to the violence that we see today, but it’s also a film about the loss of points of reference, and the attacks are part of that. But also, the film intends to show life after the attacks and all of the consequences on people’s lives. So I think it’s more about the private lives of the characters and the results that the attacks can have on the day-to-day. Also, it goes beyond the national dimension and shows how people can retake ownership of the public space after an attack.

One of the most striking moments is when the woman in a burka in the background is being chastised for her clothing on the mini-golf course. David just tells Amanda what is going on, but has no intention of intervening and just walks on by. It seems so real.
Thanks. I know the film is hard because it talks about societal and political issues, but it is much more than that because it talks about an individual’s reaction. It’s the nuances like the one that you are describing that make the film real. 

Despite the tough subject matter, the movie feels quite breezy; how do you keep up that tone?
Usually I make films that are heavier or more tragic, but in this case, I didn’t want people to leave the cinema in utter despair after seeing it, so despite the tragedy, I wanted to shoot something that would tend towards the light side. 

How did you do your research for this film? There is a lot that we recognise in the way the characters react in the aftermath of a bomb, but we don’t usually think so much about the bureaucracy involved and the people affected indirectly by the event.
I read a lot of articles on terrorist attacks, and we also met up with a lot of the organisations that look after the victims. I got a lot of information about adoption and about how to become the guardian of a minor, but I would say that the film talks about loss in a more psychological way. It talks about loss and absence, these existential issues, rather than about the specific details of what has to be done.

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