Sylvain Desclous: “I imagined La Campagne de France as an anti-Striptease”

For his first documentary feature, the director of Vendor recounts municipal elections in a small village in Indre-et-Loire. A success that he deciphers for Première.

What made you want to tackle politics for your first feature documentary?

Sylvain Desclous : This passion for politics is old for me since I studied at Sciences Po Aix. My next fiction feature, Great Hopes, will also talk about politics and it was while I was waiting for its funding that I wanted to embark on this documentary based on the municipal elections that were looming.

How did you choose the village of Preuilly in Indre-et-Loire where you set up your camera?

Rather, he chose me. A whole part of my family lives there and I myself spent all my summers there since I was a kid. Anyway, without this proximity, this film would not have existed. Otherwise, I would have had to move to Preuilly months and months in advance to forge ties. There, trust existed from the start. People who told me they didn’t want to be filmed knew they wouldn’t. As for the others, it was clear that The Campaign of France should never turn against them. The mockery was therefore irrelevant.

It is perceived as such as an anti- Striptease

Anyway, I designed it that way. This is the reason why there are very few handheld camera shots, why I prefer posed shots to favor sobriety and avoid naturalism. I wanted a film without effect but not without style.

These municipal elections were the first post Yellow Vests election? Did you feel it throughout filming?

Not really, to be honest. I felt more the problems common to France of deindustrialization, abandoned rural France: the closure of a health center, shops, the Post Office… This was the heart of these elections. And through this documentary, I also show how much being the mayor of this type of village has become more and more complicated, between the increasingly strong demand from citizens and the increasingly weak resources allocated.

What prompted you to do, of the three lists in the running, the one led by Mathieu, the introverted Parisian who returns to his native village and Guy, the big mouth of the village, the left pegged to the heart the common thread of the story ?

I first started by writing a screenplay. But very quickly, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make it without spending a lot more time in the village. And it was almost at that time that Cédric announced to me that he was putting together his list with Guy as number 2. I had known Guy very well for years, a little less Mathieu, but I had shot scenes of my first feature, Seller, at his place and we had sympathized. And it was then obvious to me that the film had to cling to them, that they were going to carry it and restructure it. While taking care, however, not to film only them. And not to give the feeling of favoring one list over the other so as not to influence the campaign. Because for all of them as for me, the main thing was her!

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