Charlotte Le Bon, the Quebec-born actor and filmmaker who is presenting her feature debut, “Falcon Lake,” at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, has already enjoyed several careers. She moved to Paris over 10 years ago after a working as a model, and became an instant star with her hilarious comedy sketches that she delivered on a Canal Plus primetime talk show. She went on to become an actor and worked with Lasse Hallström (“The Hundred-Foot Journey”), Michel Gondry (“L’ecûme des jours”), Jalil Lespert (“Yves Saint Laurent”) and most recently, Mimi Cave (“Fresh”). Le Bon then stepped behind the camera to direct her first short, “Judith Hotel,” which played at Cannes in 2018, and launched an online art gallery showcasing her illustrations and paintings. Memento Intl. is handling sales on “Falcon Lake.”
“Falcon Lake” is an usual coming-of-age story that is about first love, melancholy, adolescence and ghosts. How did it become your first feature project?
After I made my short film “Judith Hotel,” my friend Jalil Lespert handed me this graphic novel, “Une soeur” (“A Sister”) by Bastien Vivès. Jalil said he thought it would be a good material for me to make my first feature film and I immediately was drawn to the story because it deals with adolescence and the awakening of desire, and feelings of strangeness and solitude that I experienced myself when I was growing up.
How did you make the story your own based on this graphic novel?
At first, Bastien Vives thought his novel couldn’t be adapted into a film, but I had a great collaboration on the script with François Choquet and I was able to put a lot of my own into this story to make it a personal film. The graphic novel, for instance, was a more classic coming-of-age story. For one thing, there was no ghost in the novel. Since I’m a fan of paranormal and horror — I know so many ghost stories! — I added some genre elements into the narration, which is meant to give a sense of looming danger. The character of Chloé also has a slightly darker, more secretive and tormented facet and is a bit of tomboy as I was when I was a teenager.
What was your inspiration for this film?
I’d say “American Honey,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Summer of Love” and “Take Shelter.”
You also wanted to set the action in Quebec, where you’re from, instead of Brittany, where the book is set.
Yes, for my first film I needed to shoot in a place I was familiar with. The region where we filmed, in the Laurentides, is where I spent time during my childhood and I thought this lake, with its dark and seemingly menacing water, was a fitting backdrop. When you’re swimming in these waters you feel a bit of anxiety, it’s like a double-edged experience, a bit like going through adolescence and becoming an adult. It was also interesting to have the character of Bastien, who is a Parisian, be confronted with this new environment he knows nothing about. He’s a bit vulnerable, and that’s partly what draws Chloé to him.
You have had a successful acting career, working with some high-profile filmmakers in France and in the U.S. What made you want to become a director?
I haven’t given up on acting but I want to focus on roles that truly inspire me. For instance, I’m attached to star as the French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle in the feature debut of French actor Celine Salette. I never wanted to be an actress, partly because both my parents are actors. … All I wanted was to be financially independent and also be independent from the desire of others. But being on set and observing everyone work, including technicians, taught me a lot and made me want to step behind the camera and be the one in charge. I also grew frustrated with female roles that I often found too clichéd.
What’s next for you?
My second film will be inspired by a story of a friend who lived in a haunted apartment for two to three months. This time I’ll go full in into genre!