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Un Certain Regard: "Versailles" by Pierre Schoeller

Audrey  Delbru

Audrey Delbru

Today's Un Certain Regard screenings begin with the presentation of Versailles, a first feature film by Pierre Schoeller. The director, in the running for the Caméra d’Or, treats the delicate subject of homelessness in today's affluent Western societies.

"The film is rooted in a world of poverty, cold, and hunger," relates Schoeller. "But Versailles is above all the story of a bond that is forged between this man and this child. What interested me the most was showing how Damien, a voluntary outcast, could display social strengths. Like in a fairy tale, the beast was a prince. Whatever we do, whatever we say, misfits and outcasts are an integral part of society. The social body has no borders. Damien is the washed-up individual who returns one of its members to society. And what if the degree of humanity of a society were measured according to its capacity to make room for its opposites?"

Indeed, Damien lives in isolation, in a shack in the woods near Versailles. One day, he meets Nina, a young woman who is drifting around with her five-year-old son Enzo. They spend the night together. But early in the morning, Nina disappears, abandoning Enzo. When Damien wakes up, he finds himself with the five-year-old. As the days and seasons pass, the man and boy come to discover each other, tame each other, and forge a bond, which is as tough as their poverty. Nevertheless, the day comes when they must leave the shack…

Regarding his stylistic objectives for the film, Pierre Schoeller explains: "The problem was tackling the theme of poverty while avoiding gloom, and powering the film with a fine energy. I wanted to move towards sensitivity and emotion, to be a listener, to display empathy. There is very little dialogue, very little music. As in a silent film, the story is above all related by the images. The film opens with a social situation before tackling broader questions, the power of bonds, the social order, the law."

To the audience gathered at the premiere in the Salle Debussy, Pierre Schoeller said: "You can imagine how happy I am to be here. Thank you a thousand times for this invitation. I believe that Versailles and Cannes have something to say to each other. I hope so. My thoughts go out to those who couldn't be here with us tonight, like Pierre Chevalier who, through the CNC, provided me with a writing grant, and was the first to show his confidence in my project. I dedicate this premiere to the actors. Guillaume [Depardieu], without you, the film couldn't have been made. You are magnificent. Bravo for you, too, Max [Baissette de Malglaive]! Judith [Chemla], you devoted so much heart to Nina, and were so demanding of yourself... Without delightful encounters, there's no film, I think. Patrick [Descamps], whom you're going to see on screen for the first time. Philippe Martin, thank you for the welcome and all the work Pelléas did on my behalf."

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VERSAILLES
Un Certain Regard

VERSAILLES

Pierre SCHOELLER

FRANCE - 2008

01:53

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