×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MyFrenchFilmFestival: ‘No Drowning’ Writer-Director Mélanie Laleu Discusses Her Competition Short

With another short in pre-production and a feature script well underway, writer-director Mélanie Laleu took time out to discuss her short film “No Drowning,” building a world with limited time, and trends in contemporary French cinema

2018’s My FrenchFilmFestival kicks off this Friday, and among the shorts which have made their way through the festival circuit and to the online event, is Mélanie Laleu’s second short, “No Drowning.”

The film has already screened at a dozen festivals across the globe, including TISFF and Palm Springs. It was co-produced by Paris-based companies Offshore and À Travers Le Miroir, with international sales being handled by Manifest.

The film is a journey into a fantasy, coin-operated world, dominated by a Big Brother type voice which instructs people how to go about their lives. In this world, society’s respect for the individual’s intellect has all but gone; so much so that it has become necessary to remind people that drowning is strictly prohibited.

The world of “No Drowning” is drenched in perpetual darkness, often exacerbated by the fact that some characters don’t have the necessary funds to activate their house lights. In spite of the gloom, little bits of brightness seep through the cracks for Paula and Dagobert, as they find one another amidst the monotone crowds which inhabit the streets and cafes.

Paula is an exotic dancer at a peep-show, who is never without her duffle bag with the tails of her mermaid costume hanging out, while Dagobert makes his living diving for coins tossed into a wishing well adorned with a sign that shares the film’s title, No Drowing.

Not quite a love story, while drama and comedy intertwine, the protagonists of “No Drowning” tread water until Dagobert convinces Paula to make a wish of her own at the fountain, and something truly magical happens.

“No Drowning,” like all MFFF competition shorts and features, is available to stream over Jan. 19-Feb.19. The shorts are free to watch, while features are available for a small rental fee where available, and free in some territories.

Can you discuss where the world of “No Drowning” came from?

“No Drowning,” rather than No Swimming, is an absurd interdiction on the public fountain, which implies that society doesn’t trust people to know what is good for them anymore. Here it can evoke a terrible happiness, a mandate where giving up is absolutely forbidden, or simply a message of hope.

How did you balance the darkness of the world, and these characters lives, with the levity of the humor in the film?

In the end, my films spotlight loneliness in our modern way of living, and how we deal with it. But, I try to bring fantasy into dark places. I love to take one step to the left in presenting reality, and use absurd situations and a bit of humor to get my point across.

What were your guiding principles when directing “No Drowning”?

In a way it was “No Drowning”! There were a lot of sets and a very short time to shoot in each, so we had to believe it was possible and do it fast.

I knew a big part of the crew from my first short and I trusted them, so I tried to stay focused on the relationship between the two characters, Paula and Dagobert, and the acting.

Do you see yourself as part of a new generation of French filmmakers, and what are some characteristics you see that define that group?

I don’t know if I’m part of a new generation of French filmmakers, but I do see a lot of young French filmmakers inspired by many different cinema cultures from all around the world (Belgium right next to us, but also from Nordic countries or Korea…) and I think that’s a good thing.

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

Maybe a trend to revisit genre films with an auteur vision, like Julia Ducournau did with her feature “Raw.”

What is next for you?

I have a third short movie in pre-production and I’m writing my first feature film.

CREDIT: Melanie Laleu

More Film

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

  • Fanny Litard, Jérémy Trouilh on ‘Blue

    France’s Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh Discuss MyFFF Suburban Fable ‘Blue Dog’

    French filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh met at university while studying political science before diverging towards separate careers. Trouilh trained in documentary filmmaking; Liatard worked on urban artistic projects in Lebanon and France. They eventually joined back up to film three shorts: “Gagarine,” a Sundance Channel Shorts Competition Jury Prize winner in 2016; “The [...]

  • MFFF: 'The Collection' Director Blanchard Readies

    'The Collection' Director Emmanuel Blanchard Readies First Feature

    Paris-born Emmanuel Blanchard studied and then taught history before becoming a documentary filmmaker responsible for films such as “Bombing War,” “Le diable de la République” and “Après la guerre.” He’s currently directing “Notre-Dame de Paris”, a 90-minute animated part-doc, part-fiction film on the building of the world-famous Paris cathedral. Competing at MyFFF, “The Collection” is [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super: Broly

    Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

    Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.” If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content