Départ ou non
Sven Bresser's short film L'été et tout le reste (which premieres in Venice's Orizzonti Short Films Competition before going on to Toronto) shows Corsica in a light that tourists never see.
The film, supported by the Film Fund, is set on the island out of season. The visitors have all left. So have many of the young locals, in search of jobs and opportunity. Marc-Antoine is still there, however, caught between a desire to leave and love of his ‘motherland'.
Bresser had the idea for the film when he was still a student. "I had been going to Corsica for my whole life because my grandpa built a house there 50 years ago," the young filmmaker reflects. "My family had been going there for a long time. My aunt married a Corsican man... Corsica really felt like a second home."
When he got older, Bresser couldn't help but notice the "really fast shift" in life on the island once the summer ended and all the tourists had left. He realised the ‘rhythm' of the island completely changed in this period and the beach where families spent so much time
suddenly emptied. He had relatives and friends who stayed there the whole year and wondered just how they spent their time.
"If you talk to Corsican people about the choice whether to leave or stay, it's like a classical Corsican dilemma, especially for young people," the director suggests. "The pressure to make a good choice is something that's universal for my generation. I experienced the same sort of struggle when I finished high school and while I was making my first films." In the film, two friends have different plans, Mickael is already plotting his departure but Marc-Antoine doesn't know if he is ready yet to take that leap.
The two leads, local residents MarcAntoine Innocenti and Mickael Danguis Fasolo, are both newcomers, playing versions of themselves within a fictional story.
"It was a big adventure," Bresser says of the shooting process. French, as spoken in Corsica, wasn't his native language - he could speak it a bit but was out of his comfort zone. He further points out that there is a grain of truth to the stereotype of Corsicans as harsh and suspicious of outsiders. He was warned that it would be impossible to make a film there with a Dutch crew. "But we had really good help. When we explained our film, people were really happy to hear we were telling a story about young people outside the tourist season." It helped, too, that his cousin was a
well-known figure on the island whose name opened many doors.
Bresser is a graduate of the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht. His mother is a photographer and his father is an advertising copywriter - a useful background for a would-be filmmaker. His previous short Cavello, which looks at tensions between two previously inseparable 12-year-old friends, screened widely on the festival circuit. He also recently shot Free Fight, a mid-length movie about two very macho brothers who are MMA fighters struggling to deal with vulnerability and grief after their mother dies.
In making L'été, Bresser sought support from one of Amsterdam's best-known independent production companies, IJswater Films. He had been contemplating making a different project but sent the rough idea for L'été et tout le reste to them. They were immediately enthusiastic.
Yes, the director continues to visit Corsica. He was there earlier this summer and showed the film privately to his actors. His relatives should have the chance to see it at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht. ‘I am excited and nervous about the big festivals but it is almost more important to show it to my Corsican family and friends," he declares. "It's an outsider telling their story. For me, it is very exciting to show it to them."
SEE NL Magazine #32 September 2018 / Venice, TIFF & NFF Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.