“Can you bequeath without being a mother? »

Rebecca Zlotowski, September 4, 2022, during the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival, Italy.

A good title for the fifth feature film by Rebecca Zlotowski: talk about other people’s children, For the Parisian filmmaker, it’s as much about storytelling as it is about praising the collective experiences of parenting, education, religion or cinema.

Is this your most personal film?

It is not the first time that I see a reality close to me, although I have never done it with so few filters. Playing my own father, who prays at my own mother’s grave, shooting for the first time the city where I grew up, Paris, was moving towards this simplicity. I also wanted to “fix” scenes that I couldn’t experience. To say, for example, goodbye to this child who is not mine.

Does “The children of the others” respond to “Belle épine” (2010), your first film?

Definitely. Not only because the heroines have the same last name, Friedman, or because we can see Léa Seydoux on a poster, in the last shot. With beautiful thorn, I used to say that, even as an orphan, you don’t forget your mother; there I tell you that, even if you are not a mother, no one will forget you.

What were the challenges of staging?

It is a special year in the life of this woman, who counts triple in terms of fertility. How to take advantage of the tools of narration and filming to tell that time, in it, runs differently? Arnaud Desplechin or Nuri Bilge Ceylan could have inserted boxes. I found other solutions: irises opening and closing, seasons passing…

The celebration of Yom Kippur also marks the film…

It is difficult for me not to cross paths with my Judaism, which is sometimes heavy, often luminous. Celebrating Kippur on the sidewalk outside a synagogue marks the passing of time. It also shows, in some shots, that this family is close. It’s a movie about streaming more than it is about motherhood. We need to know who is going to bury you, that’s my Ashkenazi part speaking. Can we bequeath, leave a mark, without being a mother?

The heroine sees motherhood as a “collective experience.” She “makes a connection”, even in her profession, a teacher. Does the plural of the title come from there?

Absolutely. When I talk about cinema, I use these words, “collective experience”. For a long time I believed that I would never have children, as if I were denied a visa from a country I wanted to visit. The cinema can be a palliative. It connects us with politics, with the history of forms, with humanity. I loved that too, when I was teaching in high school or college.

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