Laurence Reymond: “It was really after this Palme d’Or that the program Elles font genre was born” at the International Women’s Film Festival – Toutaculture

Starting March 12, the International Women’s Film Festival of Créteil will inaugurate its 44th edition, where a section entitled “Elles font genre” is appearing for the first time. Its instigator Laurence Reymond confided in Tout la Culture about its eclectic programming.

When we talk about “genre cinema”, we see that the expression is still difficult to define. What does it correspond to in the context of the festival?

In the context of this edition, it will essentially correspond to fantastic films which sometimes tend towards horror. If we want to be broad, the genre addressed is that of horror.

Can genre cinema be anything other than horror?

Yes, it can be a lot of things, it’s just the choice of horror we made this year. The expression “genre cinema” is a bit generalist, a bit like the term “fantasy”. We wanted to frame the expression here in order to continue the programming of this section for future editions, in order to find new branches. We could program westerns directed by women, with filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt, Jane Campion, etc.

Ida Lupino, whose film The Voyage of Fear is planned in the program, and to which we dedicated a retrospective last year in some theaters, did she make something that we can consider as horror cinema?

We are talking about a film from 1953, at a time when horror did not mean the same thing as today. As part of the Voyage of Fear, we’re more on the “fear film” side, which corresponds to the feelings of the spectators. In 1913, when filmmaker Lois Veber made thrillershe already uses this idea of ​​“anguish”.

When Ida Lupino directs Le Journey of Fear in 1953, she uses other tools, but it is always a certain anguish that ends up being obtained. We are faced with a road movie where two male characters are taken hostage by a sort of serial killer. You end up spending the whole road trip with them, with the significant presence of the killer. Today, we would call it a thriller. In the 2000s, when Marina De Van made her film In my skin, she works there a horror of the intimate. With Lucile Hadžihalilovic, to whom we pay tribute this year, we are confronted with another facet of anguish, which is much more metaphysical and sensitive and which passes through sounds and colors. There is no blood, but the anguish is still very present. When we talk about “Elles font genre”, we are talking about an exploration of angst through different styles and different worlds.

With a movie like Titaniumwhich won the Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, is it possible to say that we are heading towards a democratization of gender cinema for women?

The future will tell us, but the fact that the jury chose to give the Palme d’Or to Julia Ducournau has a very symbolic force. I don’t think it’s due to the fact that it’s a woman, because you shouldn’t limit a gender to a sex. It’s about highlighting women who explore gender and who will bring their individuality. We are going to try to show their own universe, which is added to the universes we already know, which are essentially masculine in nature.

It was really after this Palme d’Or that the “Elles font genre” program was born. When we think of the women who make genre cinema, we see that there aren’t many of them. In France, we still have a few directors, like Marina De Van, who started in the 2000s, or Coralie Fargeat, who directs revenge in 2017. Young female directors also make short films, of which we will show two films in one session. With this round table that we are organizing between different women in the field, we want to try to give hope and cards in hand for young directors who are wondering if it is complicated to make genre cinema. The doors open gradually. Titane may not have invented everything, but still represents a turning point. This Palme is important because it is the fruit of a real artistic risk, of a real universe. There was a bias of the jury which shows that one can try to do beautiful things by deviating from a certain realism.

The name of Lucile Hadzihalilovic is very little known in the world of cinema. Yet she is already appeared many times in the credits of Gaspar Noé’s films. What can you tell us about her and her background?

This is precisely why we pay tribute to him, so that we really recognize his work. If women directors of “genre cinema” are so little known today, it is because history spends its time not showing them.

Lucile Hadžihalilovic began filmmaking at EDHEC (former name of Fémis), where she met Gaspar Noé. They will collaborate together from the beginning, creating a very artistic pair. The first films of Gaspar Noé and Lucile Hadžihalilovic echo each other a lot, especially in his first medium-length film The Mouth of Jean-Pierre, produced just after EDHEC. There are many links with the cinema of Gaspar Noé in the themes and in the aesthetics, through the use of giallo and bright colors.

From there, she will develop a universe of her own. The themes of his films are often linked to the world of childhood, most of his main characters being children, both boys and girls. Its aesthetic refers a lot to fairy tales, with very allegorical and symbolic images. The colors are very strong, she works on fairly dark shades, greens, yellows. It is rather rare to speak of a director or a director by evoking this idea. His themes explore the anxiety of the transition to adulthood and adolescence with its changes of state. There is this idea of ​​mutation and transformation which are themes specific to the fantastic. There is always a monstrosity in his films, without making explicit things appear in them. She remains in mental universes, which play on the soundtracks, conceived as hyper-precise scores where the music, the ambient sounds, the body sounds and the voices mix. It is this aspect that mainly puts the viewer in a state of anxiety. In 20 years, she has made three feature films, including her third Earwig will be screened in preview during the festival.

Filmmakers like Karen Arthur, Coralie Fargeat or even Ida Lupino remain names relatively unknown to the general public today. How did these directors mark the history of cinema?

If we talk about Ida Lupino, we know above all the actress, who has made many films and who was very well known by this simple title. She began to direct films almost discreetly, hence the fact that she is less known as a director. The idea of ​​rehabilitating his films as a filmmaker is fairly recent work. She tackled very innovative subjects on femininity for her time, with in particular a film like Contempt which evokes the theme of rape in the early 1950s. Following this film, the subject remained and remains little treated, which is crazy!

Coralie Fargeat, meanwhile, has only made one feature film so far, revenge. It takes up the tradition of “rape and revenge”, which is a sub-genre of horror film created in the 1970s. When Quentin Tarantino made Kill Bill, he is partly inspired by this movement. These are films that generally tell the story of a girl/woman who gets raped and decides to take revenge by killing more or less everyone. In the 1970s, they were considered B-Movies, more or less minor films that did not necessarily enter the history of cinema, but which are still part of a small school. Nevertheless, most of these films are made by men. When Coralie Fargeat directs this first feature film, she is one of the first women to interfere in this genre, which is almost a paradox. It takes up the codes of this style with a feminine look. She can more easily identify with the character, which does not prevent a director from being able to do so as well.

What does the International Women’s Film Festival represent today for women directors, without specifically mentioning genre cinema?

It is a festival that is now 44 years old, so it is well established in the landscape of cinema in France. It has a great international reputation, which has paved the way for other women’s film festivals around the world. Help and benevolence are always given to the directors. It’s not a world famous festival, but that’s not necessarily what it’s about.

Our aim is to highlight very good films made by female directors. The idea of ​​getting rid of the question of “world premieres” allows us to shape very good quality programming. It is a festival created above all for the public. It is very flexible and welcoming, and the female directors generally feel welcome there, having enabled some of them to make people known. For several years, most film festivals have boasted of showing a certain male/female parity. Nevertheless, there are still too few female directors at a festival like Cannes, where only two of them won the Palme d’Or (Jane Campion for The Piano Lesson in 1993 and Julia Ducournau for Titanium in 2021). It should never be taken for granted that women are just as respected and projected as men. The work of the Women’s Film Festival has a meaning that goes beyond the 10 days of screenings, in particular through work with schoolchildren throughout the year. The festival develops audiences, as well as the view of young and old on the films of female directors. It is a work that reflects its topicality.

The programming of the Women’s Film Festival is now available at this address.


Movie poster Titanium by Julia Ducournau

Still from the movie medusa by Anita Rocha da Silveira

We wish to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this remarkable material

Laurence Reymond: “It was really after this Palme d’Or that the program Elles font genre was born” at the International Women’s Film Festival – Toutaculture