Mes Frères et Moi (La Traviata, My Brothers and I), as seen by Yohan Manca

Picture of the movie Mes frères et moi (La traviata, my brothers and I) © David Koskas - Single Man Productions


Inspired by a play, Yohan Manca’s first feature film tells the story of a boy from a working-class neighbourhood in Sète, who dreams of being like the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Avoiding clichés, the filmmaker – with the help of cinematographer Marco Graziaplena – captures siblings through a lens influenced by the Italian cinema of the 1960s and 70s.

What did you hope to say with Mes Frères et Moi (La Traviata, My Brothers and I)?

Sometimes an encounter miraculously takes us down a different path, and art or culture can make us think differently, question things and save us.

What was the atmosphere like on set?

It was just like a family. I had the chance to work with people who have supported me since my first short films. There was a lot of love and a great desire to tell this story together.

What can you tell us about the actors you worked with?

I wrote the role of Sarah for Judith Chemla after I heard her sing La Traviata at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. She’s an incredible actress. She’s starred in my two previous short films, alongside Sofian Khammes, who I’ve known since my first acting classes. He’s a really talented and unique actor. Dali Benssalah and I met for this project, and I think now he’s become part of the family. Just like the two youngest cast members: Moncef Farfar, who had never performed in theatre or film before, so it was his first time acting. And little Maël Rouin-Berrandou, who’s a natural-born actor. They’re the kind of people who from the very first moment you can tell acting runs in their blood.

What did you learn while making this feature film?

That producing a film is obviously a lot of work, but it’s also a series of small miracles if it doesn’t turn out too badly in the end.

What made you want to become a director?

To start with, popular French comedies that were on TV. Like Le Splendid theatre group for example, I think they’re pure geniuses! There’s also the film by Les Inconnus, The Three Brothers, which I must have seen at least 2000 times. And then a little later on, I discovered Italian cinema of the 60s and 70s: Scola, Fellini and Antonioni. As someone who left school too early and didn't go to film school, Martin Scorsese’s films and his comments gave me a lot of strength: “To learn how to make films, you need to watch the films”.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I'm currently adapting a book from a lawyer about an interesting case involving Somali pirates.

What do you think about French cinema?

We have a diversity of ideas and an openness that I find exceptional. I’ve been lucky enough to work a little in Spain and with an Italian director of photography, so I’ve heard about the working and financial conditions of films in other countries: we need to preserve our differences because they’re priceless.