×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MyFrenchFilmFestival: Aude Léa Answers Questions on Competition Short ‘Long Live the Emperor’

200 years later, the Battle of Waterloo is still finding new ways to damage soldiers of the Emperor

In 2015, Napoleon’s troops were forced to suffer one of history’s most historic defeats once again, before getting back into their sweats, hopping in their cars and driving back home. 2015 marked the 200th anniversary of the extraordinary battle, which shaped Europe for a century, and was too unique an opportunity for director Aude Léa to pass up, and she took the chance to film, “Long Live the Emperor,” which is in competition at Unifrance’s 2018 edition of the online MyFrenchFilmFestival.

Paris-based Les Films de Pierre, the company behind one Cannes favorite “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” produced the short. International sales are being handled by L’Agence du Court Métrage.

In the film, Bébé, a newcomer to the reenactment scene, has put together a flawless uniform, armed himself with era-appropriate ordinance, practiced his maneuvers and pitched his tent in anticipation of participating in the Bicentennial. His devastatingly devoted wife Luda has joined him, even if she isn’t quite as wrapped up in the pomp and circumstance.

Bébé struggles to ingratiate himself with the veteran re-enactors, and suffers more than one crisis of confidence in his attempts to join the ranks of Napoleon’s soldiers. Sensing her husband’s struggles, Luda waits for him to head off for the day before getting a costume of her own in an attempt to lift his spirits, which seems to work until Bébé tells Luda about a simple error on his part that has crushed the dream he has worked a year to achieve.

Lea discussed her film with Variety in the lead-up to the short film competition at MyFrenchFilmFestival, which launches today on online services around the world.

What experience did you have with the battle reenactment culture before you made this film?

Absolutely none. A Belgian friend showed me pictures of the re-enactment that took place every year in Waterloo near Brussels. I was immediately fascinated by this incarnation or reincarnation of history by people from all backgrounds. That year marked the bicentennial of the fall of the Napoleonic empire during the terrible battle of Waterloo. It is an incredible backdrop, a sort of giant carnival, except that the theme is unique and precise: War. What is most important in the re-enactments is the place of arms and war. Because beyond folklore, bivouacs and costumes, all the re-enactors have only one objective: the great battle. They are adults who play. It is this scale that has been the driving force behind the project and the character of Soldier Bébé, played by actor and co-writer Jonathan Couzinié. We had the feeling that those people who “play” Napoleon, do pretty much what we do in the making of a fiction. We play to make true.

You likely had more extras involved than all the other shorts in competition combined. What challenges did you face filming at the “battlefield,” with so many people around?

I was very conscious that the risk we were taking was to be engulfed by the reality of the event. That’s why I chose to isolate ourselves in the car park and stay on the margins of the festivities. We mingled with the crowd only when we decided to. We thus protected ourselves from the event. We drew only what we were looking for.

What were your guiding principles when directing “Long Live the Emporer?”

What I knew was that I only had 48 hours to shoot this film, the time of the event. So most of the work had to be efficient. I had great confidence in both of my actors. We had been preparing for a week, so that they would get into the battle with their characters in hand. Then, when the filming really started, we practically shot the film in real time with a very small crew. I did the filming myself, and I had only two technicians by my side. We really felt like we were experiencing this story in real time, which was very convenient to adjust or re-adjust to what was happening. We had the feeling of living the film rather than thinking about it.

Do you see any trends in the shorts you have watched for this, or other festivals where you have participated?

There are many things that speak to me, yes. Especially Romanian short films or those from other Eastern Europe countries. The young filmmakers of these countries work with very little means and practice a cinema based on the strength of the stories, the strength of the actors’ play. They do not have the luxury of getting lost in effects or calibrations. But more generally, yes, I like to watch and discover short films, because there is a freedom and some are very daring.

What is next for you?

I am preparing my first feature film that should be shot this summer, if all goes well.

CREDIT: Aude Lea

More Film

  • Midnight Traveler review

    Film Review: 'Midnight Traveler'

    Refugees rarely get to tell their own stories, which means their stories get told for them — often inaccurately and with undue hostility. Lack of resources is one issue, but a lack of stability is another: Asylum-seekers are in a frightening state of limbo, fleeing the imminent dangers of their native countries only to suffer [...]

  • WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make

    WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents are Fired

    The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7. The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made [...]

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD The 80th anniversary release of “Gone with the Wind” has grossed $2.23 million in six nationwide screenings on four dates — a record as the [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are directing the reboot. Mattel Films is partnering with Sony on the movie, which is based on Mattel’s beloved toy line that spawned [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content