Locarno: Director Pascale Breton Talks About ‘Suite Armoricaine’

French director Pascale Breton revisits her own personal life in “Suite Armoricaine.” The familiarity with the geographical landscape allows her to understand the characters as well as their surroundings — both memories she describes as “a painting in a museum.”

I noticed that you wanted to shoot the film at the university where you studied. Is this story autobiographical for you?

There are autobiographical details, for instance I studied Geography like Ion, and my grand-parents spoke better Breton than French like Françoise’s. But mainly, I enjoy shooting in places I know by heart. If I don’t, I would go and return until I absorb the complete geography of the location.

Many of the characters are at university. Can this be considered a coming-of-age story?

It is definitely a coming-of-age story, but less obviously than in my former feature film, “Illumination.” One theme of the story is: what is one ready to give up (or not) to become a grown up?

How did you shoot the film to make the film a seemingly motionless journey through time? 

I did everything possible to draw the audience into a permanent here-and-now mood by floating with the characters in an environment that themselves don’t know in the beginning of the story. So, yes, scenes are rather long, and the spectator is invited to open eyes and ears. It’s all about seeing maps, paintings, unknown faces. Meanwhile, there is a polyphonic sound playing. It’s through the ear that the feeling of time gets blurred.

What are you hoping to achieve at Locarno?

My film was finished in mid-July, so I’m looking forward to showing it for its first screening to the highly valuable audience of the International Competition at Locarno. I hope that the feelings and emotions I have been working on with my actors and crew for several years will reach them.

And what would you like an audience to take away from the film?

The feeling of equality – by which I mean putting things equally all along the film (for instance an aerian photography can mean as much as a painting from the Renaissance, a punk song is as important as an Elizabethan pavane, a teacher and a student, a weed and a speech, an almost forgotten language and scholar French, etc) at the end everything your hear and see, every person you meet, every urban or natural landscape becomes important. It’s both a cinematographic (Bresson said that through shots you show things in an equal way) and metaphysical point of view. If eyes and ears get used to consider things equally, that is also with humility, without any sort of partiality, life becomes very interesting.

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