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Emmanuelle Bercot on Portraying the Juvenile Justice System in Cannes 2015 Opener ‘Standing Tall’

Emmanuelle Bercot on Portraying the Juvenile Justice System in Cannes 2015 Opener 'Standing Tall'

Multi-hyphenate Emmanuelle Bercot is one of the few French film talents able to seamlessly shift between acting, directing and writing. Much of her work has debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, from her 1997 Jury Prize-winning short “Les Vacances,” to her first feature-length film “Clément” (2001), the award-winning dramas “Polisse,” which she co-wrote and stars in, as well as “Mon Roi,” earning her the 2015 Cannes Best Actress award.

Her last feature, “On My Way,” starred Catherine Deneuve, and debuted at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival. (Press materials)

“Standing Tall” opens in theaters April 1. 

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

EB: It’s the story of an adolescent delinquent that follows him from age 13 to 18 and the counselor/teacher and judge who continue to try to save him.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

EB: It allowed me to bring together two subjects in which I am extremely interested — childhood and justice. It was an uncle who worked as a counselor/teacher who made me aware of the juvenile justice system.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

EB: Being faithful to the reality of this institution: [I didn’t want] any judge or person working in the field say, “That’s not how it is.”

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

EB: I want audiences to look at adolescent delinquents with greater understanding and more compassion. [I’d like them to] acknowledge the work done on behalf of these minors, and admire it. [I hope] they realize that love is the only solution.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

EB: I don’t have any specific advice.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

EB: If there is one, I am not aware of it.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

EB: In France, it is television that pays for films to be made and I received all of my funding from TV: two television channels, government funding and distributor contribution (Wild Bunch). My films are low-budget, and not expensive [to make]. 

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

EB: “Lost in Translation” by Sofia Coppola. It’s a masterpiece. I laughed a lot but was also overwhelmed by the story — a rare combination.

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