Sara Forestier selects Katell Quillévéré

The César-winning actress introduces a young director whose early Cannes acclaim is both ‘a gift and a curse'

Katell Quillevere
Katell Quillevere Photography by Ilaria Orsini

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Taken from the February issue of Dazed & Confused:

César-winning French actress Sara Forestier: “There’s something of Martin Scorsese 
in the way Katell directs her films. She has that sense of suspense, empathy, rhythm and intensity – she’s a great storyteller.”

Writer-director Katell Quillévéré’s 2010 feature debut, Love Like Poison, premiered in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and her new film, Suzanne, was selected to open the most recent edition of the festival’s International Critics’ Week. Such early acclaim, she says, is “a gift and a curse. You have to resist pressure to make your next film look like a consensus.”

Although both of her features portray teenage girls in trouble, Suzanne is far more ambitious and passionate. “Love Like Poison was too sober,” explains Quillévéré. “It was about a young girl who emancipated herself from religion. After that film, I also needed to emancipate myself from a lot of things: from my desire to control everything on a set and, I guess, from a certain 
vision of femininity."

This perhaps explains why she chose to tell the story of the reckless, hot-tempered Suzanne (Sara Forestier). Over 90 minutes, thanks to clever ellipses, the story covers 25 years in the lives of Suzanne, her elder sister (Adèle Haenel), her widowed truck-driver dad (François Damiens) and her small-time gangster lover (Paul Hamy). Forestier and Haenel’s performances are mesmerising and Belgian funny guy Damiens is remarkable in a rare non-comic role. “I’m not afraid of accosting famous actors,” says Quillévéré, “even if I’m considered a young director, because I know what they can bring to my film. If I needed to, I’d approach Catherine Deneuve tomorrow.”

Quillévéré was 17 when, having exhausted the possibilities of analogue photography, she decided to dedicate her life to moving pictures after discovering French filmmaker Maurice Pialat. She was 19 when she chose to spend her life with another apprentice filmmaker, Hélier Cisterne, now the father of her child and the promising author of another compelling coming-of-age feature, Vandal, set among a Strasbourg gang of graffiti artists. “It’s hard to stand together when you’re in a relationship with someone of the same age who is also trying to make their way in a ruthless industry,” says Quillévéré. “But if it works, 
it definitely makes you stronger.”

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