Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles) as seen by Eric Metayer and Andréa Bescond

Film still of Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles) © RR

After the great theatrical success of Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles) or La danse de la colère, French directors Eric Metayer and Andréa Bescond took their work from the boards of the theatre to the screen, delivering their first feature film Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles), a dramatic comedy in competition for the Caméra d’or. The film draws a subtle portrait of a dancer, abused during childhood by a family friend.

Tell us about how your film came to be.

In its original form, Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles) is a play. François Kraus came to see a performance in Avignon before it became a hit and he immediately called his partner Denis Pineau-Valencienne. We met and the conversation was summed up in a few sentences; they said they would love to produce the first film. An artistic and human complicity ensued, in which all our freedom was left intact.

Can you describe the atmosphere on set?

We formed a very close technical team, and we laughed a lot during the shoot, in spite of the serious subject matter of the film. This was also a way of letting off steam. We had established an atmosphere of trust, so much so that if one part of the team had a problem and was falling behind, nobody ever expressed any impatience. We knew that the whole team was professional and completely invested. This enabled us to work in an atmosphere of calmness and respect, including with our actors.

A few words about the actors?

Each of the actors had a remarkable capacity for listening. Karin Viard, Clovis Cornillac, Carole Franck are very experienced actors, and we really appreciated their flexibility, their way of hearing what we were saying. They understood that we know our characters and they trusted us. They never made us feel that we lacked experience in filmmaking.

Pierre Deladonchamps made a bold and challenging choice in playing Gilbert Miguié. It is difficult for a well-balanced man to look at a nine-year old child and as an actor, to show feelings of desire, but Pierre is remarkable. In spite of the uncomfortable aspect of the role, he plays the pedophile with a great deal of psychological veracity.

Cyrille Mairesse is little Odette. She was our obvious choice because of her purity and the depth in the way she looks at things. It is difficult to direct a child, especially in a film that denounces sexual abuse of children. Of course we were committed to protecting our actor! She knew the subject matter, which she was able to project without being subjected to it. As adults, we were sickened because we were feeling all the tension of the rape sequences but because we "cheated", Cyrille, for her part, would ask us when she would be finished so she could go swimming with her double! The magic of cinema…

What did you learn during the making of this film?

This film shoot only reinforced our deliberate and rigorous nature. Generally speaking, we are hard workers but during the three years that elapsed between the first word of the script of this film and the final screen of the credits, it never gave us a moment's reprieve. We were constantly questioning everything and trying out things that appeared impossible on paper, so when they actually worked, we were happy!

Could you talk to us about your next project?

We want to talk about deviations from societal norms, about human beings. Our next film will also be a dramatic comedy. We will take as much time to write it and prepare it as we did for Les Chatouilles (Little Tickles).