Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LFF2012 - Interview de Tamara Stepanyan

SELECTION- “February 19th"

Fiction (voir article LFF 2012 - COMPÉTITION (Partie 3/4) )
Does the 19th of February represent a specific day for you?
I wanted the title of the film to be a date, a day in the winter. The film was shot in February 2011, hence the title. Why a date perhaps? It is the day that Anna and Alex, the two characters in the film decide to meet, in the train, in the wagon number 9.
Explain us why in the whole 34 minutes there is no dialogue at all except one sentence?
Why no dialogue... I tried to express all the words, tension and love I had to say through image. I believe in expressions, feelings, senses. I worked a lot on the set, on image, the camera movements, the light, the expression of the actors, their movements in this little space. I do not know if I succeeded to transmit and give what I had to say. I know it is always harder to 'give' and to 'take' when there are no words. I believe in giving the film what it asks. And for me, it was asking just this one phrase. During the shooting I shot dialogues as well, which is normal. Always the devil's advocate tells me 'try, you never know'. But from the first take I was sure that for sure I will use no words at all, or just one sentence, like it is now. As well while editing with Farah Fayed, who I believe did a beautiful job to cut all the dialogues, even after long discussions and hesitations. Now here is the result.

What do you hope the audience will feel? What reactions do you expect?
I believe when you make a film, it means you have the necessity, the urge to say/express something. And if this is the case, then you want your voice and worry to be heard, your fight to be shared. I have already shown this film in various festivals before and the reactions were various. It is difficult to expect something. Each audience is unique and I'm always curious to hear, to feel what they have experienced. I have had various interesting comments, and as well some negative ones. This is healthy. It is impossible to expect that everybody will love the film. I don't think filmmakers are supposed to please all. I have many close people and friends in Lebanon who are curious to see the film on a big screen during this festival. Too sad I won't be able to be there to share the emotions.
Tell us more about your career. Where did it all begin?
Well I have graduated in 2005 and I must admit that for 5 years I didn't actually shoot films for various reasons. I worked hard, did several workshops in Korea and Denmark, wrote and made an installation called 'My Beirut'. This chain of rustiness broke in 2010 when I was selected with two other filmmakers for an exchange program with The National Film School of Denmark. There I made my first film, a short documentary called Little Stones which was screened in the previous edition of your festival in 2010. Actually my graduation film The Last Station was in 2005’s edition. So the chronicle follows…
After this very special experience in Denmark, I took out the short script which I started writing few years ago, put it aside and finally decided to continue working on it with one aim. I had to make this film at any price, in any condition. And this is what happened. I was selected by Ashkal Alwan to be one of the 8 directors who received a fund to make a short film for Video Works 2011. I started shooting and I received afterwards another funding from the National Cinema Center in Armenia and at a later stage also from the Doha Film Institute. So February 19 was accomplished. After this film, during 2011-2012, I started to write, prepare and eventually shoot another film, which I finished few months ago, a feature documentary called Embers that will have its World Premiere at Busan International Film Festival in South Korea in October 2012. 
Now I reside in Paris where I just started to write my first feature film with my husband Jean-Christophe Ferrari who is a writer and a film critique.

Trailer : http://vimeo.com/31951854

Interview by Reem Samarani

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