Alice Brygo on „Soum“ / interview

Born in 1996 in Montpellier, France, she studied at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains. Her artistic practice is situated at the borders between documentary, fantasy cinema and art installation.

What was your starting point for „Soum“?

It’s often a sensation of strangeness striking me as I witness a situation of diffuse tension or latent irony that triggers my creative process. I appreciate those moments when people belonging to different social or cultural worlds meet in an unusual way, and how those encounters speak for themselves. In this way, the starting point for „Soum“ was an after-party in Inti’s squat room, on the first morning of January 2020. Inti’s father was here on a visit, reciting mantras and proposing to share ayahuasca. Jai was also there, openly making jokes about the father being a sort of hallucination among the group. There was a troubling atmosphere in the room that seemed to me revealing about generation changes in ways of experimenting traditions, spirituality, and ultimately reality.

I began to imagine a dialogue between family stories that seemed to echo each other in a particular way: Inti, who was brought up in syncretic spiritual practices by his French father in Brazil, Jai, who is actively learning all about the Hindu tradition of his mother, and Pauline who was facing the rejection of her Senegalese family as she began to show interest for animist practices. I had an intuition that issues related to post-colonial assimilation within my generation could reveal themselves by weaving the different relationships the three of my friends have with their non-Western heritage. 

As I gathered them around this project, we began to imagine a common quest they could have where would unravel each personal stories. Finally this quest ended up being the one we shared in reality as squatters, which is the process of searching and occupying a place to inhabit. 

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I love the playful moment when they gather in the director’s office of the former bank they are occupying, disguised in home-made costumes evoking archetypes of power and conquest. The protagonists fully revealed themselves through performance in this sequence which required preparation and yet was relying a lot on their improvisation. It was the most collaborative part of the film and a magical moment of shooting as none of us knew what it was going to be until it appeared on set. 

Also, bringing all those personal quests to a point of shared playfulness in the movie was significant for me, as I believe humor can in itself be a quite spiritual way of being to the world. And I feel in fact that Inti, Jai and Pauline are building up a lot around humor.

What do you like about the short form?

The short format was not easy to deal with regarding the multiples storylines and layers the movie had. Ultimately this format brought the film to go straight to its essential aspects and allowed some mystery to remain around the characters.

Photo © Dorothea Tuch

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