– Is this film a love letter to Corsica?
– Carol Rocher: Yes, without hesitation. Vezzani, in Haute Corse, is the town of my grandparents. I have spent almost every summer there since I was born, my daughters too, my brother Patrick (Rocher) and, since we met, Thomas (Ngijol), my partner. It is the place we love most in the world. We find our origins there; strong values and principles to which we are deeply attached and which, quite naturally, Thomas immediately shared. His link with the Corsican identity and his love for Vezzani is such that he felt the urge to make a screenplay….
– FRATE is a family film about a family, for families with all that happiness implies but also heartbreak, mourning, abandonment, family recompositions. Is it also a somewhat unexpected portrait of Corsica?
– CR: Cinematographically, I have the feeling that we made real cinema being realistic and as human as possible.
– Why did you have to co-sign the production with your daughter, Barbara?
-KR : Two years ago, when the project started to take shape, I first considered going it alone. It was still my town! The health crisis arrived and filming had to be postponed. There was absolutely no question of leaving the film in the drawers, but he couldn’t imagine going back alone. Barbara, who Thomas and I often worked with, had come a long way and had become the first assistant. I got to know her talent, her closeness to the actors, her relationship with the direction and her attachment to Vezzani. She had shared with us all the stages of preparation: it was an opportunity for us to form a duo and for her to start as co-director.
– Barbara, what was your reaction when Karole offered you this position?
– Barbara Biancardini: Obviously I questioned my legitimacy, but I knew pretty quickly that I had my place in the adventure. I had followed the development of the script with Thomas all these years, I knew the town perfectly and I have been collaborating for a long time with Thomas and Karole. And, above all, I know that we share the same tastes in terms of cinema. I couldn’t find a better way to start directing.
– Thomas Ngjijol plays Dume. How did Samir Guesmi choose to play Lucien?
– CR: Samir is a friend and he is a great actor. With this film it was really about showing us that it was possible to do this work for love, and to do it wholeheartedly with the people we love, whether they were actors or technicians. . The secondary actors are Corsican actors we know, all the others are townspeople. Not only did they gracefully lend themselves to all the extra scenes, but they also opened the doors of their bar and home to us. They trusted us. The entire town has been turned into a movie studio.
– In the middle of these two big men who are falling apart, the character of the aunt, who sometimes comforts one and sometimes the other, is particularly tasty.
– CR: She is the one who calms them down and gets them back on track; she reinforces her legitimacy. She is a bit like the mother, and almost a metaphor for Corsica that adopted them, a cocoon in which to take refuge.
– We almost forgot that he lives all year in Champigny…
– CR: All Vezzanais who do not live in Corsica forget their other life as soon as they set foot on the island. Only the town where they feel at home counts. I have tears in my eyes when I arrive and I cry when I leave. Vezzani is where I reset the counters. Despite everything, Champigny has a particular resonance for certain Corsicans. In my grandmother’s time, the mayor of Champigny, who was Corsican, brought many of his compatriots and ended up forming a small diaspora in and around the city. It has become a microcosm where everyone knows each other.
– How do you work with such a heterogeneous team?
-BB: Obviously the job was different depending on whether we were shooting with Samir and Thomas and with the others. Neither they nor we had in mind the concern of being funny. On the contrary, we worked on the first grade scenes as if we were making a very serious movie. We were asking a lot of questions. “Why does he react to her like that? No, that’s too much, etc…” Except afterwards, everyone was free to overdo it. FRATE is not a comedy with jokes; we start from very real situations with well-defined problems; it is the freedom of improvisation of the actors that makes the situations comical. We wanted to see them live, invent. We talk to them during the shots to cheer them up. Later, it was our turn to be regular: a little stronger, a little less… From start to finish, freedom prevailed. The staging was entirely at the service of the actors.
– CR: We had done two or three readings with Thomas and Samir before, and then I told them that we would adapt to them. This was the initial specification. We let them experience the scenes and only then do we set up the camera. They had to be able to take charge of their characters and do what they wanted with them as long as they stayed within the narrative thread. This created a lot of surprises and gave a lot of material for editing. Secondary roles have adapted very well to this method. As for the townspeople, they knew the situations we were filming so well that they didn’t have to force themselves. Everyone knows what a soccer tournament is like in the town, the posture to perform in a church, and how the balls are played.
– Karole, Biancardini is your grandfather’s surname; You, Bárbara, have chosen this surname for your career as a director. Some scenes in the film, in the cemetery, are shot in front of the vault of your grandparents and great-grandparents. They both have very special, very intimate ties to this film.
– CR: Until this shooting, apart from Thomas, he had never taken anyone to Vezzani. And I’m not sure I started the adventure three years ago, when the movie should have been made. We were at my grandparents’ house, they were gone, I was like a real guard dog. Barbara helped me a lot to get over his disappearance. I don’t know what the career of the film will be, but I know that it is above all the film of Vezzani and its inhabitants and that, in several generations, it will count for those who will come after us.