ALMARITSU – recent submission to ECU 2010 Experimental film category

ALMARITSU, directed by Damien Montaron, is a recent submission to ECU 2010’s Experimental film category. Set in a dream-like, fantasy world, Almaritsu tells the story of a man and a young boy as they struggle to brighten up the lives of those around them.

By Sophie Nellis

Q: Given that it s the only word spoken in the film, what does Almaritsu mean?

The word Almaritsu has no verbal definition. It’s a word which contains all words. Almaritsu is a cry, it’s a smile, it s confidence, it s a free breath. In fact, this word contains everything that the character is feeling at the time of the story. A long time ago, when the man was younger, when he built the boat, he was flying. But the more he helped to brighten up the lives of other people, the heavier the boat became. Over time, the boat got bogged down and the man forgot his childhood. When he screams Almaritsu, it is his childhood. I didn’t actually write the word. I asked the actor to cry out one word that contained all of his feelings, and I warned him that the word he screamed would be the title of the movie. On the day of the shoot he improvised, and there was a long, intense silence on the set after his scream.

Q: Tell me a bit about your film. Where did your inspiration for the film come from?

For this film, as for all my creative projects, I didn’t look for anything. I let the pictures come to me. It can take a long time sometimes, but if it s necessary I wait. I collect lots of pictures of the world, and from other art works, I let the connections between them create a great imaginative web, and I shape it into a narrative. It’s strange for me to explain the process of creation, because it’s more than that. Almaritsu all began with a picture, as always. I was riding a bike in the countryside and I saw two dead trees on a hillside. A very little one and a big one. The story was written. And the picture is now in the film.

Q: Does the film have an environmental message?

In my opinion, no it doesn’t. But lots of different readings of the film are possible, and if you think the many bags thrown away in the movie are dustbin liners (or garbage) then, yes, you could find an environmental message. In fact, it all depends on what the audience thinks about the bags.

Q: Why did you choose to make this film without dialogue?

I don’t talk much in life, I only like to say what’s essential. I prefer to let my pictures speak for me.

Q: I loved both the image of the handkerchiefs blowing in the wind on the hillside and the marbles. Tell me a bit more about these images.

Thank you! This is the best example of pictures which show feelings that words can only describe. I cannot explain this image, all I can say is that it s why I make films.

Q: Tell me a bit about directing your actors. What was it like working with a child?

This was an important moment for me as a director, so I was testing all the possibilities. The beginning of the shoot with the child was difficult because I had to understand his mind. It was on the second day that we found the way to lead him. We just stopped to say whether the camera was shooting or not, and I explained to him what I wanted from him. A child is a actor. We cannot ask to him to play, rather we must let him simply be. Like the greatest actors in fact.

Q: The film seems to be told from the perspective of a child. Were you inspired by your own childhood experiences?

No comment. They are a part of my life and a part of my imagination.

Q: And finally, can you explain your representation of the city?

I built the set, the houses, the living spaces, and the city at the same time as I wrote the script. Because I think a great deal of what we are can be read in our environment. And the city in Almaritsu is like its citizens. They are trying to touch the sky.

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