Rosalie, Stéphanie di Giusto’s vision


After La Danseuse (The Dancer) in 2016, Stéphanie di Giusto is presenting Rosalie at Un Certain Regard, an intimate look at a bearded woman, played by Nadia Tereszkiewicz.

Tell us about how you got the idea for your film.

After my first film, La Danseuse (The Dancer), I wanted to take the time to write. Following the death of my father, I felt a big emptiness and a subject thrust itself onto me. After Loïe Fuller, I came across the story of another out of the ordinary woman: Clémentine Delait. A bearded woman who was famous at the beginning of the 20th century. This feminine face with a beard fascinated me. I had photos, a gaze, a mystery to explore. I knew that she had refused to become a simple carnival attraction but had, on the contrary, wanted to be “in life”, to have the life of a woman. After lengthy research, I only wanted to keep from the true story of one of these women afflicted with hirsutism (that’s the scientific term for this problem) what personally touched me. I didn’t want to make a biopic.

“I took up this subject first and foremost as a love story.”

What was the atmosphere like on the shoot?

It was very important to me that my two actors not meet before the shoot. We filmed chronologically, I wanted them to discover each other as the film went along, so that feelings could develop little by little, as in the story. Nadia and I were living in the scenery, in this isolated little village in the Breton forest, we were very connected. She started in makeup at 5am, each strand of har was pasted on to her skin individually, like a solemn ritual. I didn’t want to cheat and give her a fake beard, because the actress needed to believe, too. This painstaking and obsessive work allowed her to possess the character, completely, in the flesh. Despite these constraints, I wanted her to keep her natural enthusiasm that matched Rosalie.

Have you got any stories from the set?

Benoit Magimel was always on the set in the personality of the character, never distracted by anything else. It was really hard at the beginning for Nadia with her beard, to feel so rejected by this actor that she so loved but it was for the good of the film and she understood this. She made use of it. When she had the beard, it would sometimes happen that he didn’t look at her, but she was able to assert herself little by little and he was able to forget the beard, as in the story.

What can you tell us about your actors?

I couldn’t find the actress to play Rosalie. I knew Nadia from my first film as I had chosen her as a young dancer in Loïe Fuller’s troupe. When she came to the casting call, she was one of those rare actresses who didn’t have the vanity of an actress… She had a very pure energy, a natural enthusiasm that I needed for the character. Even with a beard, she had a troubling sensuality. Finally, nothing would have been possible without the miracle of Benoît Magimel’s presence. It’s through Abel’s gaze that we understand Rosalie’s emotion. I knew that it was going to be difficult and courageous for an actor to accept being so exposed. Only Benoit seemed to me capable of this portrayal at once sensitive and animal, interior and physical.