Rencontres 7e Art Lausanne, an event initiated by actor and director Vincent Perez, takes an interest in Swiss cinema by organizing a roundtable every year of Swiss film professionals who share their writing experiences, filmmaking secrets, filming stories.
This year, several talented Swiss directors shed their light on their profession, spontaneously in a friendly and discussion-friendly environment. From who: Bettina Oberli (The wind is turning, my fabulous Wanda), Elie Grappe (Olga) and Frédéric Baillif (The Mif).
This conference was organized by Stephane Gobbojournalist responsible for the “Culture” section of the Climate. It should be revived at the beginning of the article. A summary in text format is also available below.
What made you want to make movies?
Bettina Oberli: For me, filmmaking is a way of understanding the complexity of life. Creating collectively is also a very additive process.
Elie Grappe: I join Bettina. Cinema is not just an industry, it is also an art that must be understood as an issue. You have to dive into it with joy. Cinema in Switzerland is radiant and courageous.
Frederic Baillif: It’s a very rewarding process. Every movie makes you grow, it’s a way of life. Personally, I fell in love with Eric Rochant’s film “A world without mercy”. That’s where my desire to make movies comes from.
Cinema is also there to decipher the world. As directors, what is your reaction to the images of the conflict in Ukraine?
Elie Grappe: We don’t want to see these images, but we have to. Cinema is crossed by reality, so all this has to do with us. What is happening also gives us the opportunity to become more engaged in life.
Frederic Baillif: This brings me back to the issue of migrants, I’m actually working on a film on this subject. With the issue of the social angle, it is a very complex issue. I find the reception of Ukrainian citizens in Europe extraordinary. I can’t stand injustice and that’s what keeps me going in my work.
These images can also be diverted to serve as propaganda. As a director, do you feel a responsibility working on this?
Bettina Oberli: It’s our job, we have to take care of making stories. We live in a world where everyone can make movies. There is indeed a war of images, and this can enter the field of manipulation. We are entering an era where we no longer know what is true and what is not. We have a responsibility.
You work with non-professional actors. Why?
Frederic Baillif: I try to be as close to reality as possible, so that people believe in it. I find it hard to see actors exaggerating. I prefer to trust people who have lived the story I’m telling, trust their experience, their personality. I find my account there.
Elie Grappe: Our characters are fictional, but I totally agree with Frédéric. In Olga, they are professional gymnasts, not actresses. Also, I don’t know if I will work differently with professional actors. There is no such thing as a bad interpreter. Above all, you have to find the right place for people.
Is casting the most important moment in a film?
Bettina Oberli: Casting is an important step. However, I don’t really like this step, because I have to expose myself to find the right path with my actor. For choice, I’d rather go have a coffee and have a chat with someone to see if they can have their place in my movie. I want to find realistic characters.
There’s writing, filming and then editing…
Bettina Oberli: Editing is a story in itself. It is an extremely creative process and it is important to have a really good partner with you.
Frederic Baillif: According to my working method, there is a real rewrite in the editing, which I always do myself. I could make very different movies with all the equipment I have at the end of a shoot. Why? I shoot very long takes, sometimes up to 30 minutes, leading my actors with suggestions. They have the option of taking the direction they want to go.
In Olga, how was that phase?
Elie Grappe: The film relies heavily on the experience of the artists. We chose a lead actress who would “crush” everything I wanted to show in my film. If filming is a joy, with a lot of freedom, editing is also there to bring order.
In French-speaking Switzerland, we have a vision of great authors, with an all-powerful director. However, cinema remains a collective art…
Frederic Baillif: That’s right and that needs to change. The Jean-Pierre Mocky who yells at everyone is gone. A filmmaker must be aware that he has an entire team around him and that he can and should trust them. You have to respect each role and not try to crush everyone by imposing your vision. It is sometimes delicate, because the director’s point of view must nevertheless be able to emerge.
You managed to develop your career brilliantly. You are a woman in an extremely masculine environment. Was that a problem?
Bettina Oberli: At first I felt like I had to be stronger than I really am. I had to be ambitious, determined. For a man it is much simpler, because if he does that, he will be thought to know what he wants and where he is going. We will be much more critical if a woman behaves like this.
Elie Grappe: It is quite true, cinema has always been the representation of a certain masculinity.
Frederic Baillif: Fortunately, we are evolving! I am against all discrimination, for example, one that would be to say that I have no legitimacy to direct this or that film.
Elie Grappe: The fear of approaching matters that are not yours is normal, it is even essential. This allows us to confront a reality that is not ours and leads us to change our view. However, we must always remain very humble.
A word about your studies…
Elie Grappe: The school has a huge responsibility, it is a very strong construction site. There is still a need to find life experiences, which are important. But we are on the right track. My experience at ECAL was excellent.
Bettina Oberli: School is also the ideal place to find your own way, to assert yourself.
Frederic Baillif: For a long time, I had the complex of not going to film school. I realized then that my school was all I did in life. But I experienced shortcomings, a lack of technical knowledge. I had to fill them in by learning and surrounding myself. I was lucky to have had several lives. At 50, I feel like I have a lot to say.
In Switzerland, there is talk of a law to tax platforms – such as Netflix – to reinvest the money in national production. Your opinion?
Bettina Oberli: I am absolutely for it.
Frederic Baillif: It is absurd to be against this law.
Elie Grappe: I obviously have the same position. Films produced in Switzerland are already being promoted, but more needs to be done. These platforms are responsible for supporting production in Switzerland, which this funding would allow. This would allow us to develop new quality movies and series.