Jean-Sébastien Chauvin on „Mars Exalté“ / interview

The French director, teacher and film critic has already made several short films including „Les filles de feu“ (Girls of Fire) which was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at Cannes. From 1999 to 2020, he worked for the French magazine “Cahiers du Cinéma”.

What was your starting point for „Mars Exalté“?

It was the first time I had a film project without any script or dialogues. My producers Yann Gonzalez and Flavien Giorda offered me five 16mm rolls and complete freedom with the use of it. Only two principles had to be followed as much as possible: taking inspiration from my practice of photography, which is quite centered on light at dusk, and shooting one or two minutes a day during one month. For the whole month of March 2021, the cinematographer Maxime Berger and myself wandered around the streets of Montreuil and Bagnolet, two close suburbs of Paris, to get those lights, to catch this fragile moment when we enter the night. And because I always see it as magical, I had this idea of a dreamer, a character who could interact silently with this very moment, to see how it affects him.  

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

It’s difficult for me to isolate a specific moment because I really see the movie as a whole thing. Maybe what I really like is the way we found, with Patric Chiha the editor, where the movie is leading to: the bliss emerging from a neverending dusk. More than this specific moment, I think it’s the entire journey, the musical movement of the film that I’m really proud of.

What do you like about the short form?

A short movie can be as noble and powerful as a poem or a novella. But I also think the short form is the place of total freedom, because you don’t have the same pressure from the market that you have when you’re making a feature film. You don’t even have to tell a story. You can just look at the world’s beauty and make it your only subject.

Photo © Dorothea Tuch

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