Loic Barche on Short ‘The Atomic Adventure,’ Upcoming Feature Debut ‘Feu de Paille’

“The Atomic Adventure,” a contender in UniFrance’s online MyFrenchFilmFestival, is the third short from Loïc Barché (“Goliath,” “Le Commencement”). Variety talked to the director about the short, and his feature debut “Feu de Paille.”

“The Atomic Adventure,” produced by young French outfits Punchline Cinéma and Leonis Productions, is set in 1961 in Algeria, where France has just detonated an atomic bomb, and a group of soldiers is sent to the zero zone to measure the radioactivity.

With touches of humor, documentary moments and an occasionally festive soundtrack that underscores the thoughtlessness of the atomic mission, “The Atomic Adventure” has a tragic, near surreal ending, offering a reflection about how progress evolves.

The story is inspired by true events. France carried out around 30 nuclear tests in the 1960s, mainly in the former French colonies of Algeria and Mururoa, an atoll in the French Polynesia. The tests ended in 1996.

Barché is working on his feature debut, a follow-up to “The Atomic Adventure,” which was selected for the Élisabeth Depardieu-founded Émergence Résidence and will be produced by Punchline Cinéma.

Popular on Variety

What was the inspiration for “The Atomic Adventure”?
A mission that took place on April 25, 1961, just after the explosion of the fourth French atomic bomb, in which soldiers were sent to ground zero to retrieve samples and assess the danger of radiation. This episode seems to me to be indicative of a shift in our history where “progress” began to mean “economic growth” and not at all “happiness” or “improvement of living conditions.”

To what extent does the plot focus on real events?
The idea of the film was to draw inspiration from this mission, but not to simply illustrate it. I have taken many liberties in order to link these events with contemporary events. In fact, it was the very choices that made an explosion in economic growth possible during the Glorious Thirty [1945-1975 period of large French growth] that have led to the current-day situation of the climate.

The tone and situations are not exactly naturalistic…
The film deliberately maintains a critical distance with the characters, who are like insects in the desert into which they sink and get lost. The title of the film itself is ironic. The film oscillates between the very light and highly dramatic moments. I wanted to show, at the same time, the faith in progress of the time and the disenchantment of today.

What references did you handle in making “The Atomic Adventure”?
While writing, I often thought about Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard,” with regard to the idea that what is presented as a “new world” truly hides quite conservative realities. Jonas Mekas’ films guided us in the 16mm sequences. We wanted to mark a distance with the characters by favoring wide shots and avoiding at all costs the language of the so-called “realistic” mise-en-scène. While editing, I wanted, as in the films of Jean-François Stévenin, to makes the cuts very visible. By using the cut in the jump-cut you can represent a character’s thought process.

Could you give us some details about your feature debut?
I’m currently writing it. The working title is “Feu de Paille” (Flash Fire). The action take place in a village where a nuclear waste landfill project is being built. César winning Swann Arlaud (Hubert Charuel’s “Bloody Milk”) and Karim Leklou (Romain Gavras’ “The World Is Yours”) will play the main characters. Talking about nuclear energy makes it possible for me to question the future of humanity, and its development model on a fairly long-term scale (the landfill project affects the next 5,000 generations). I believe that cinema can help us project ourselves into the future, giving us the means to think about it serenely, with a free mind, rather than fearing immediate disaster.

More Film

  • Donna Rotunno Gloria Allred

    Donna Rotunno Complains to Judge About Gloria Allred Attacking Her in the Media

    Harvey Weinstein’s lead attorney Donna Rotunno asked the judge to silence Gloria Allred, the high-powered attorney who is representing three women who’ve testified in the New York rape trial. Before the jury entered the courtroom on Friday morning, the fourth day of deliberations, Rotunno made a complaint on the record to the judge regarding Allred’s [...]

  • Call of the Wild

    Box Office: 'Call of the Wild' Fetches $1 Million on Thursday Night

    Harrison Ford’s “The Call of the Wild” opened with $1 million on Thursday night. STX’s supernatural horror sequel “Brahms: The Boy II,” meanwhile, earned $375,000 at 1,800 screens from Thursday previews. The earnings for Disney-20th Century’s “The Call of the Wild” is in the same vicinity as “The Upside,” which took in $1.1 million from [...]

  • Infinity Hill

    Viacom International Studios, Infinity Hill Sign Exclusive First Look Deal

    Viacom International Studios (VIS) has signed an exclusive first look development deal with Infinity Hill. The companies will co-develop and co-produce a slate of Spanish-language features, filmed globally and utilizing international talent on both sides of the camera. Infinity Hill is the new label from longtime Telefonica and Viacom exec Axel Kuschevatzky, one of the [...]

  • There Is No Evil

    German Regional Film Funder Boosts Budget, Targets Young Filmmakers

    Since taking the helm at German regional funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) last year, Helge Albers has revamped the organization, worked to increase its budget by €3 million ($3.3 million) and introduced new initiatives aimed at young filmmakers. Albers, a former film producer who previously served as head of the German Producers Assn. and a [...]

  • EFM European Film Market Berlinale Placeholder

    European Film Market Tackles Big Issues Under New Leadership

    Growing demand for a united European response to the ever encroaching dominance of streaming platforms will be high on the agenda at this year’s European Film Market in Berlin. The first EFM to take place under the leadership of new Berlin Film Festival heads Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian is also introducing a new initiatives, [...]

  • Dan Scanlon (L) and US producer

    Berlin: Director Dan Scanlon Discusses Pixar’s 'Onward,' and His Michigan Inspiration

    Pixar’s “Onward” saw its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the film’s director, Dan Scanlon, and producer, Kori Rae, talked to the press at the festival about the film, which follows brother elves on a magical quest to reconnect with their late father. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voice the brothers who [...]

  • Johnny Depp arrives for the 'Minamata'

    Johnny Depp on 'Power of the Small' at Launch of 'Minamata' at Berlin Film Festival

    Johnny Depp arrived at the Berlin Film Festival Friday to support the film “Minamata,” in which he plays celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith. In the film, based on real events, Smith is pitted against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning with mercury the people of Minamata in Japan in 1971. Also in Berlin were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content