His magnificent first animated feature film tells the story of two children fleeing their country at war to save their skins. Meet.
How does the idea of Crossing ?
Florence miailhe : It dates back to 2005. And this idea resonated with the story of my great-grandmother who, in 1905, fled Ukraine for France because of the pogroms against the Jews, for France. This story resonates in me with the beginning of the great migrations of the beginning of the 21st century. And very early on I asked Marie Desplechin – who has participated directly or indirectly in all my short films so far – to join me for the writing. She had the idea not to date the story, not to precisely situate the country that my two young heroes flee, to disconnect this scenario from the story of my great-grandmother.
Did the idea of a film appear very early on that was aimed at different generations, children as well as adults?
Absoutely ! As soon as we do animation, the question of the target audience is asked by the investors. And with Marie, it was always clear that this film would be for the widest possible audience, at least from college students. Care has been taken to ensure that there are several levels of reading and understanding of this story.
Could this have been an obstacle for its financing because 9 years elapsed between the beginning of its writing and its entry into production?
Yes. We were often opposed to the question of the audience to whom the film was going to be addressed. Many also thought that my colorful universe with great visual richness, the fruit of my technique of painting on glass animation, would have a hard time taking the long course. But above all, I think that this long period of uncertainty is explained by the fact that we were a little ahead of the time with the subject. Migration was certainly already very present but less publicized. The subject of Crossing has often been misunderstood. Some saw there a film on a totalitarian regime, a parable on the years 39-40. It was better understood from the Syrian tragedy and the migrations that followed when the media took hold of this reality.
You who had worked alone on all your short films, how did you feel at the head of a team?
I was a teacher and surrounded myself with certain students. The big difficulty was to work at the same time in three different studios, in France, in Germany and in the Czech Republic. Sometimes, from a distance, the 15 facilitators (14 women and one man!) That I had brought together. To find the level of requirement that can accompany an extremely artisanal technique where if you make a mistake, you have to start over the entire plan. To be in the detail which makes the coherence of the whole but not too much so as not to exhaust everyone. It is necessarily less simple when you are not there.
The story, constructed like a tale, based on a voice-over. How did you build it so that it isn’t too ubiquitous?
In animation, the voice-over allows you to tell what the image does not tell. This is how it is built, by not stammering. Here, it’s an older woman who tells about her adolescence and I had in mind as a model, Little big man, which brought humor and distance. And that voice is mine! Initially, we thought we would record it at the end, once the film was finished. I had recorded a witness voice but I knew that we could act until the last moment with it. It was the last transformable item. We did some unsuccessful tests with two or three actresses and finally I stuck to it!