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Meet the 2011 ND/NF Filmmakers | “Memory Lane” Director Mikhaël Hers

Meet the 2011 ND/NF Filmmakers | "Memory Lane" Director Mikhaël Hers

During the long days and soft breezes of summer, seven twenty-something friends come together in their hometown. Some have never left; others have created lives for themselves far away and see themselves as just passing through. Mikhaël Hers’s lovely “Memory Lane” is a film about characters caught “in between”—between city and country, friendship and love, life and death, and youthful dreams and the impending realities of growing up.

Setting in motion several story lines, Hers allows action to develop and characters to emerge through subtle gestures, quick looks, and offhand remarks. His splendid ensemble of actors truly creates a sense of closeness, a kind of familiarity that need not be emphasized because it’s always present. [Synopsis courtesy of ND/NF]

[indieWIRE invited directors with films in the 40th edition of New Directors/New Films to submit responses in their own words about their films. To prompt the discussion, indieWIRE asked the filmmakers about what inspired their films, the challenges they faced and other general questions. They were also free to add additional comments related to their projects.]

“Memory Lane”
Director: Mikhael Hers
Writers: Mariette Désert, Mikhael Hers
Producer: Florence Auffret
Cinematographer: Sébastien Buchmann
Editor: Pauline Gaillard
Cast: Thibault Vinçon, Dounia Sichov, Lolita Chammah, Stéphanie Daub-Laurent, Thomas Blanchard, David Sztanke, Louis-Ronan Choisy, Didier Sandre, Bérangère Bonvoisin, Marie Rivière

Responses courtesy of “Memory Lane” director Mikhaël Hers.

The long road to filmmaking…

Cinema always seemed to me an obvious path and I can’t find the specific triggers that lead me to it. Very early it appeared to me like some abstract promise, like something that was waiting for me and I never really knew why. But somehow I still took the long road, studying for a long time subjects that had nothing to do with cinema, even though when I was asked I always said I wanted to do cinema. I felt my salvation lied there.

Returning to the same Parisian suburbs to make a new film…

I had already directed three medium-length films focused on the same themes and shot in the same places. I wanted to re-investigate these Parisian suburbs where I grew up. I wanted to shoot an impressionist chronicle of a group of friends between two ages, in these moments when they sense that something is unrelentingly changing. My aim was to unite in this movie ordinary situations and daily gestures, but also to put a lyrical background, more abstract, more existential, centered on the time that passes by.

I wanted a strong sensation of now and reality, and at the same time something more abstract and timeless. I wanted to shoot the beginning of a love story, the outbreak of a disease in a family, the drift of a character in a real existential crisis, and also some simple moments like the return from a party in a sleepy suburbs, the city hills of my teenage years, a young woman who plays Ping-Pong in the sunset on a terrace of a swimming pool. It’s a portrait made with all these details.

A humble evaluation of his filmmaking style…

I cannot be objective enough just yet to have an approach of the film and to experience it. I just want to say I have the feeling that the movie is unusual and that it doesn’t look like anything else. I did it my way with the specificities and the limits it implies and even with a kind of naivety. I am happy with that. It seems to be close to me.

Making the quotidian spectacular…

The biggest challenge was to try to maintain a dramatic tension and to create an emotion with daily feelings and details, which seem are inherently non-spectacular. Then I had to find supports and good shifts for this movie which is contemporary and anchored in the problems of our present-time, our society, but which doesn’t take over great social issue in a frontal way. I have the feeling that it speaks about today’s world, but in an unintended way. The challenge was also to impose this story and to find the means to shoot it with an unknown cast. The actors weren’t at the roof of the financial support.

The next step…

I am writing another movie and preparing a video-clip for an English band. I’d like to shoot my new film elsewhere and explore new territories. Who knows, maybe abroad or in a French small-town, shooting young women in the city…And to keep shooting characters who struggle with time.

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