German director Andreas Dresen has made the selection at Cannes for the second time. In 2009, he presented Cloud 9, the story of a married, sixty plus woman who suddenly falls in love with a new man. This year, he continues with the theme of untimely events with Stopped on Track (Halt auf freier Strecke), a film about illness and death.
Franck receives his diagnosis : his brain tumour means that he only has several months left to live. It is out of the question that he should stay in hospital: he therefore lives his last moments surrounded by loved ones and receiving treatment at home. Whereas some people keep a diary, Franck chooses another form of expression: his iPhone.
In order to create a maximum of spontaneity in his film, Andreas Dresen did not write a script as such. The dialogues were completely improvised by the actors. "We interviewed staff in palliative care, doctors and people who had lost loved ones to terminal illnesses. We filmed every interview, we compiled them all and then discussed them with the actors. That is how we created the characters."
The storyline in Stopped on Track inevitably echoes Restless, which was presented at the opening of Un Certain Regard. Both films follow the last days of two characters, but in contrast to Gus Van Sant, Andreas Dresen places his fated patient at the heart of the plot. Yet both directors express a common desire: discourse about death as a means of celebrating life.
Stopped on Track (Halt auf freier Strecke) will be screened at 11 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. in the Debussy Theatre.