Let us introduce you to the French director Michaël Soyez, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.
Born in the south of France in 1987, after studying at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he turned his attention to photography, which he continues to pursue to this day. In 2016, he made his directorial debut with the documentary essay film Knockdown. Prendre feu is his first fiction film.
Male violence superimposes the innocence and growth. It is difficult to differentiate reality from dream, when everything is reality for those who protect the other. ‘May beetle fly/Your father is at war/Your mother is in Pomerania/Pomerania has burned down/May beetle fly.’ This German nursery rhyme sets the tone for the film and according to historian Hans Medick, can be traced back to the global Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). A hand pushes a mossy branch to the sky. A fire burns. A long shot reveals deep black smoke rising behind the boy.
In large tableaux alternating with dense, observant close-ups, photographer and filmmaker Michaël Soyez creates a scenario in which two brothers try to protect their friend from violence and anger. They live in a forest somewhere: a house, a young girl at the piano, an old woman. Only in excerpts do we come to understand this ensemble. More than the people, it is the colours and sounds that tell the story. The rich green, the dark red, the blonde hair of the boys who move in a labyrinth of emotions.
What is your ambition in the film?
My principal desire in the movie Catching fire was to combine rage and sweetness. Trying to draw a timeless portrait of a period of life where fragility is greater: childhood. By assembling the pieces of this lost world the film try to hatch the persistent images of what could be in the same time a paradise and a hell, a place of beauty and world to leave.
What do you like about the short form?
Certainly all the freedom that the form allow, find the right rhytm and time without any pressure. And it’s more usual to do a short film with a short team, shorter is closer, do films with a real human link is essential for me.
What are your future plans?
I’m in collaboration for a second time with Camille Genaud and Paraíso production on an other film: Lise’s laughter and tears. It will be a movie made with tenderness and melancholia constructed as a dialogue between childhood and adulthood that i’m very excited to do this summer, crossed fingers touch wood.
Actually i’m finishing to write a film where fire, death and ghosts are dancing together hand in hand, otherwise i will begin soon a doctoral thesis “theory and practice” in the field of cinéma about the representation of human finitude and impermanence of life.
24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.