Following the current run of “The Last of the Frenchmen,” Pierre-Emmanuel Urcun will be premiering his newest short, “Looking for Maurice,” at France’s Clermont-Ferrand Intl. Film Festival, one of Europe’s premier platforms for new young filmmaking talent.
The film follows a hapless ambulance driver and his stoner partner through the French countryside on a mission to save his life-long best friend who is thought to have contracted the Ebola virus while on holiday. The film was made with support from France’s Brittany region and Finistère department, along with Canal Plus.
For this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, Urcun submitted his short “The Last of the Frenchmen,” whose name references the 1992 classic and – up to a point – similarly-themed “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Urcun’s “Last of the Frenchmen” tells the story of Remi, the only remaining “native” Frenchman in his banlieu, one of the tough suburbs of Paris mainly composed of French people with African origins, a consequence of France’s colonization and destruction during WWII,” Urcun explained.
Urcun said he uses “particularly French humor and wordplay” to tell the immigration story but notes that “as a parable, it also has an international dimension.”
He hopes to explore the themes presented in “The Last of the Frenchmen” further with a future feature film. He is also working on a second feature. Apparent in all his pieces is an ability to enrol humor as an aspect of storytelling in a way that seems necessary without proving distracting. “Humor has the power to talk about very important issues from another angle rather than drama. I’m very concerned with the idea of contributing to social dialogue. That’s my little grain of sand to help society to create the context for a better life together.”
A central theme in both films is the bond of friendship. When asked how best to display this on screen, Urcun replied, “My work was to create this alchemy using real and fictional feelings. Rehearsals have a key role in my way of directing.” Rehearsals for “Looking for Maurice” in fact stretched over 18 months.
“The Last Frenchman” and “Looking for Maurice” were produced by Urcun and his partners at Stank. “The Last of the Frenchmen” is being distributed internationally by L’Agence du Court Métrage.