Benoit Martin Screens ‘The Geneva Convention’ at MyFrenchFilmFestival

Année Zéro co-founder Benoît Martin portrays conflict and detente among French high school kids

Benoit Martin
Photo by Olivia Rutherford

French production company Année Zéro has selected at MyFrenchFilmFestival a new short by up-and-coming director Benoît Martin. The company is home to co-founders and festival regulars Stéphane Demoustier, whose feature debut “40-Love” was co-produced by the Dardenne brothers, and Guillaume Brac, whose own debut, “Tonnerre” proved one of France’s acclaimed debuts in 2013.

Martin, another Année Zero co-founder, shows large promise with his short, “The Geneva Convention.” It depicts a conflict about to boil over between two groups of teenagers waiting at a bus stop, and the actions of a few who must intervene to prevent violence.

The film was inspired by a memory Martin recalled from his own adolescence. “I encountered a situation between two groups where I had friends in each group but the bus arrived and everyone went home, but that’s not interesting.” “The script is another thing,” however he added.

Harking back to “Hero,” his 21-minute coming-of-age dreamed about a kid at school who lays claims to having sprayed graffiti across a wall of the mayor’s house in order to impress the prettiest girl in his class, Martin shows an ability to inscribe a smorgasbord of neo-political positions – activism, confrontation, conciliation, authoritarianism, violence – into group stories featuring young high-school kids or people in their early20s, as in the soon-to-marry couple in “Haram.”

Keeping up with the French comedy trend, Martin also shows great aplomb in his ability to use humor to advance a story. “For me the teenage years are always funny… humor in film gives a sense of reality and I try to make it funny but in a realistic way.”

Martin shows a real knack for getting the best out of young actors, “The Geneva Convention” was financed by French public broadcaster France 2, the Lorraine Region, and France’s CNC state film board. The film’s international distribution is being handled by Shortcut Distribution.

2017 promises to be a year full of accolades for “The Geneva Convention” which will continue its tour of more than 20 festivals and events including Sundance as part of the International Narrative Short Films, Flickerfest and a tour of the U.S. as part of the Young French Cinema program, a joint venture between UniFrance and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy which brings French films with no U.S. distribution to art-house cinemas, film societies, the Alliance Française network, and American universities.

“I know that soon the film will be running in universities and cinemas can play the films as well,” Martin said of the film’s international prospects. “We are very excited about Sundance and all the festivals.”

As for his future plans, Martin echoed something often heard from directors with such successful shorts: “I am writing a feature film.” He went on to say that for the script he will stick with what has gotten him to where he is today. “I want to continue to write on youth and clumsiness.”