Thursday 19 May 2022

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Culture | IFFI

You can make a film without making it to film school: Estelle


Photo: Mukund Shinkre

Estelle Artus, a French born film director and screenwriter living in New York, was at 47th IFFI for her debut feature 'According to her'.

She was interviewed by Goa’s young aspiring filmmaker Heramb Kirtany, obviously with a perspective any young filmmaker would have. This interview is thus aimed at the such youngsters, for whom Estelle has been a role model.  

She graduated with a PhD from Sorbonne University, where she taught visual arts.

Working in Paris as a video artist, Estelle won acclaim for her video installations and several short films: 'Domestic Underground', 'Ring Road', 'I Love Korea and Korea Loves Me', 'Play Again', and 'Where it Clicks'.

Estelle has been nominated for the NBC Universal Emerging Director Program 2016.

How important or beneficial do you think a film school is for an aspiring filmmaker?

I don’t think film school is mandatory. You can make a film without having been to any film school. Because you will learn everything while doing it. But having said that, film schools do help you to build up a network of people, who are at the same level as you, usually young and enthusiastic. It helps you to find your future collaborators or at least the collaborators for your first film. And it’s helpful because there is already camaraderie among the crew, which is very important.     

Your film is about an artist who sacrifices her passion and her career for motherhood. What is the reason behind choosing such a subject?

Hmmm…It’s very loosely based on my experience. Also such content has very rarely made its way to the screen. How women have to sacrifice their career because the child takes up all the time in the day. So it’s very difficult for women to find a balance, especially when there are no family-support services like how in France you have day-care facilities. But in the US there is nothing like that. And usually if you are an immigrant like I am, there is no family around you. In a city like New York, where the film is set, this is usually a permanent conflict.      

Having freshly made your first feature film, do you have any advice for aspiring film makers, who are currently planning their debut short or feature?

For one Film makers need to try and get the distribution even before you start production and it is very difficult, especially when it is a debut film but it is always better.

Secondly, get collaborators (Cast & Crew) whom you can trust fully.

Thirdly, prepare a lot in the pre-production stage. On set you only need to focus on the actors. The hardship when you are making your first film is that you don’t know where you are going and you really don’t know how to deal with that, at that moment the key is to keep your vision intact.

The film industry is largely Male-dominated. Being an insider, what do you see as a reason?

You are right, but I think it is going through a very slow change. Back in the US and Europe the industry is very stratified, in a sense that women are working on films but strangely there is no inclination to have women directors. Most producers we see are men, almost all distributors are men and that is a big problem. However I still think you should see a movie for being a good movie and not because it is directed by a woman.

Now this is a special question for the cinephiles who will be reading your interview, five of your favourite film which you think needs to be watched by all?

That’s always a very difficult question (laughs). I’d say ‘A man escaped’ (1956) by Robert Breeson. This question is very cruel really, I can tell you about the directors, Jean Luc-Goddard, Federico Fellini along with many other Italian directors. Also American and Japanese directors. Quite a lot of them to really pick names. I also strongly suggest the French new-wave directors other than Goddard. I would say I’m a very conservative when it comes to watching films.      


Do you have any suggestions for the organisers of IFFI?

Yes, they need to create more spaces for interaction. The interaction between the audience and the filmmakers needs to increase along with the interaction between the filmmakers. And it’s hard to go to another director and say “Hi, I’m also a director” (chuckles). So a space dedicated to interaction would be very nice.

Is there anything distinct about the audience at IFFI that you would like to point out?

Yes, I’m used to an audience that is much more of a snob and very critical. On the other hand, you see a curiosity among the audience here in India. It’s very genuine and I really enjoyed that.

I think we take that as a compliment…

Yeah! It a compliment (smiles) is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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