Katell Quillévéré: “Any versatile actor who can make you laugh, can also make you cry very easily”

French filmmaker Katell Quillévéré (b. 1980) and screen actor François Damiens (b. 1973) recently visited the Brussels Cinematek for a Q&A after a screening of “Suzanne” (2013), Ms. Quillévéré second feature as a film director and screenwriter after she did “Love Like Poison” (2010). The film, an intense drama and to this day a tremendous work of art, basically deals with childhood and adulthood, and how the women relate to the men in their lives, while in the meantime the story is not only told onscreen, but also off-screen. Inspired by Ms. Quillévéré’s readings of autobiographies of women who shared their lives with criminals, she turned it into a fictional tale, with Mr. Damiens in a leading role as Suzanne’s widowed father of two daughters Suzanne and Maria. Sara Forestier is Suzanne who falls in love with a small-time gangster, and Adèle Haenel in one of her earlier screen efforts, plays Maria.

French filmmaker and screenwriter Katell Quillévéré. Photograph: Leo Verswijver

Mr. Damiens took off the entertaining and insightful Q&A by telling a few anecdotal stories, things that happened to them while they were shooting “Suzanne” in Marseille, before Ms. Quillévéré talked about casting Mr. Damiens: “I really didn’t know François very well. I was familiar with his hidden camera sequences that he had made for television, and I loved those. They were very interesting, he was like a wonderful comedian to me. That’s why I wanted to meet him, because I knew that any versatile actor who can make you laugh, can also make you cry very easily.” Very passionate about this courageous and appealing project, she was able to cram twenty-five years of live into just ninety minutes – without wasting a minute. She knows how to pack a stunning film full of life, making her a tremendous master in storytelling.

François Damiens during the Q&A at the Brussels Cinematek. Photograph: Leo Verswijver

Mr. Damiens played Suzanne’s father in the movie; as always, he was brilliant – and moving – in his portrayal. Does he like to play a father figure, as he also did in several other films? After all, he and Karin Viard played deaf farming parents to a hearing daughter who has a gift for singing in “La famille Bélier” (2014, a.k.a. “The Bélier Family”), one of his most memorable screen roles up until now, “I don’t know,” he said, “I am a father myself and it involves a lot of responsibilities. I am a father first and foremost, that’s my most important role. It’s also something you are for the rest of your life.”

The entire French-language audio of the Q&A, as taped at the Brussels Cinematek on June 5, 2018, will soon be available right here.

The theatrical trailer of Katell Quillévéré’s wonderfully observed and almost unbearably moving “Suzanne” (2013)

FILMS

LES DEUX VIES DU SERPENT (2006) DIR Hélier Cisterne SECOND ASST DIR Katell Quillévéré PROD Justin Taurand SCR Hélier Cisterne, Nicolas Journet CAM Hichame Alaouie ED Thomas Marchand MUS Tom Harari, Rémi Alexandre CAST Vincent Rottiers, Élodie Mennegand, Julie Declos, Olivier Jacquement

UN POISON VIOLENT, a.k.a. LOVE LIKE POISON (2010) DIR Katell Quillévéré PROD Justin Taurand SCR Katell Quillévéré, Mariette Désert CAM Tom Harari ED Thomas Marchand MUS Olivier Mellano CAST Clara Augarde, Lio, Michel Galabru, Stefano Cassetti, Thierry Neuvic, Youen Leboulanger-Gourvil, Philippe Duclos

VANDAL (2014) DIR Hélier Cisterne PROD Justin Taurand SCR Katell Quillévéré, Hélier Cisterne, Gilles Taurand (original idea by Hélier Cisterne, Nicolas Journet) ED Thomas Marchand MUS Ulysse Klotz CAST Zinedine Benchenine, Chloé Lecerf, Emile Berling, Jean-Marc Barr, Brigitte Sy, Ramzy Bedia, Marina Foïs

SUZANNE (2013) DIR Katell Quillévéré PROD Bruno Levy, Gaëtan David SCR Katell Quillévéré, Mariette Désert CAM Tom Harari ED Thomas Marchand CAST Sara Forestier, François Damiens, Adèle Haenel, Paul Hamy, Lola Dueñas, Corrine Masiero, Anne Le Ny, Karim Leklou

RÉPARER LES VIVANTS, a.k.a. HEAL THE LIVING (2016) DIR Katell Quillévéré PROD Justin Taurand, David Thion, Philippe Martin SCR Katell Quillévéré, Gilles Taurand (novel by Maylis De Kerengal) CAM Tom Harari ED Thomas Marchand MUS Alexandre Desplat CAST Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Dorval, Bouli Lanners, Kool Shen, Monia Chokri, Alice Taglioni

SEULE À MON MARIAGE, a.k.a. ALONE AT MY WEDDING (2018) DIR Marta Bergman PROD Jean-Yves Roubin, Cassandre Warnauts SCR Katell Quillévéré, Marta Bergman, Laurent Brandenbourger, Boris Lojkine CAM Jonathan Ricquebourg ED Frédéric Fichefet MUS Vlaicu Golcea CAST Alina Ioana Serban, Tom Vermeir, Jonas Bloquet, Johan Leysen, Karin Tanghe