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The Indiewire Springboard: Meet Three Best Friends Who Made a Film and Won at Cannes

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire May 30, 2014 at 9:23AM

Every Friday, Indiewire's Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the indie world who deserve your attention. Today we talk to the three directors behind "Party Girl," which just last week won the Camera d'Or award (best first feature) at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
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Claire Burger, Samuel Theis and Marie Amachoukeli
Cannes Film Festival Claire Burger, Samuel Theis and Marie Amachoukeli

Every Friday, Indiewire's Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the indie world who deserve your attention. Today we talk to the three directors behind "Party Girl," which just last week won the Camera d'Or award (best first feature) at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

"Party Girl," which opened the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and soon after won the Camera d'Or award at the event for Best First Feature, marks the feature directorial debut of Samuel Theis, Marie Amachoukeli and Claire Burger, three best friends who've known each other for 15 years.

Party Girl

Theis' mother, ex-cabaret performer Angelique Litzenburger, plays the heroine of the title, a semi-fictionalized version of her middle-aged self. Litzenburger's own children (Theis included) play her kids. The film recounts a recent period in Litzenburger's own life where she gave up her career in the nightclub industry in eastern France to settle down with a man she barely knew (played by fellow newcomer Joseph Bour, who the directors found at a bar three days before the shoot), and plan their wedding. Eric Kohn in his review for Indiewire said that "Party Girl" "delivers a gentle, somber portrait of the aging process that's consistently believable."

"We've done a lot of things together... all kinds of things." -- Claire Burger

Prior to embarking on their debut feature, the three filmmakers, collaborated on a 35-minute film-school short "Forbach," which also starred members of Theis' family.

We've done a lot of things together... all kinds of things. -- Claire Burger

We had the desire to make it because we are close friends. Making a film, the three of us together, it's a big thing. We believe in the collective art of cinema. We are not trying to put our ego on the table. It was exciting to do something together, something that would test our relationship.  -- Samuel Theis

I love my mother and I have a lot of problems with her. -- Samuel Theis

We had to push her. She was very scared for much of the shoot. -- Claire Burger

We couldn't just ask her to play scenes that were good for her image. We had to go deep into sides that weren't so comfortable, otherwise it would have no strength. That was part of the deal we had together. -- Samuel Theis

L to R: Samuel Theis, Angélique Litzenburger, Claire Burger and Marie Amachoukeli
Cannes Film Festival L to R: Samuel Theis, Angélique Litzenburger, Claire Burger and Marie Amachoukeli

Everything is therapy. Every artistic form is therapy. -- Samuel Theis

Doing this film was maybe the only possibility to speak the truth. -- Samuel Theis

"Everything is therapy. Every artistic form is therapy." -- Samuel Theis

Most of the professional actors feel a bit disturbed by this new way of making films with non-actors. -- Samuel Theis

And [non-actors] are cheaper! -- Marie Amachoukeli

Non-actors are closer to children, which is great. They don't take themselves too seriously. -- Samuel Theis

The set was funny because it was a ballet between the crew and the actors. I'd compare it to dance contact, because it's like improv. The crew really has to be completely aware of their space. -- Marie Amachoukeli

We are not so gentle. We ask a lot of everyone. It's really exhausting to work with us. Nobody gets a break. -- Samuel Theis

It's difficult to connect with our emotions, because this whole experience [of Cannes] is too intense. -- Claire Burger

Party Girl

We discuss everything together. We are all control freaks, but we love surprise. It's a game between all of us. We love games. -- Marie Amachoukeli

Because we were very close we had the same vision for the film. I don't think we could have done this had that not been the case. - Claire Burger

It's like having a baby together. -- Samuel Theis

And it looks like your mother! -- Marie Amachoukeli

We need to rest before choosing our next projects. We have many desires. But it's too soon to know what we're going to focus on. We don't want to be committed together. If we want to work together again, we have to know that it's possible to work separately too. -- Claire Burger

This article is related to: Indiewire Springboard, Party Girl, 2014 Cannes Film Festival , Cannes 2014, Interviews






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