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2008 Festival Feature Films (March 28-30)

J’aurais voulu être un danseurJ’aurais voulu être un danseur

The VCU French Film Festival presents the American premiere of J’aurais voulu être un danseur

director Alain Berliner screenplay Alain Berliner, Sonia Bekhor producers Patrick Quinet, Serge Zeitoun starring Vincent Elbaz, Cécile de France, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Circé Lethem, Pierre Cassignard, Jeanne Balibar running time 1 h 47 min although not rated, parental guidance suggested


François Maréchal leads a happy, tranquil life. Married to a pretty young woman, he’s the father of a small boy and has just been promoted — he’s now the manager of a video store. Everything seems to be going wonderfully in his well-ordered life — until the day Singin’ in the Rain comes out on DVD and François is caught in the spell of the wonderful world of musicals. He very quickly comes to a decision — he wants to become a tap dancer! Turning his back on his peaceful happiness, he dumps his wife, child and job to live his sudden, all-consuming passion. A mediocre but persevering dancer, he finally manages to exercise his craft in a provincial nightclub. There he must confront his past in the shape of his father, whom he thought was dead and who, like François, left home and hearth many years ago to become a tap dancer.

Alain Berliner

2002 La Sirène rouge by Olivier Mégaton
1999 D’un rêve à l’autre
1996 Ma vie en rose
1993 Rose

Vincent Elbaz

2007 La Petite Meurtrière by Julie Lipinski
  Tel père, telle fille by Olivier de Plas
2006 Paris-Banlieue by Didier Rouget
  Teen spirit by Olivier de Plas
  Le Dernier Gang by Ariel Zeïtoun
2005 Ma vie en l’air by Rémi Bezançon
  D’Artagnan et les trois mousquetaires by Pierre Aknine
  Test by Didier Rouget
2004 Le Parfum de la dame en noir by Denis Podalydès
  Dans tes rêves by Denis Thybaud
Un monde presque paisible by Michel Deville (VCU French Film Festival 12)
2001 Absolument Fabuleux by Gabriel Aghion
  Embrassez qui vous voudrez by Michel Blanc
  Ni pour ni pour contre (bien au contraire) by Cédric Klapisch
  La Parenthèse enchantée by Michel Spinosa
  Rue des plaisirs by Patrice Leconte
  J’peux pas dormir by Guillaume Canet (short)
2000 Mémoire morte by Jean-Jacques Dumonceau (short)
1999 Peut-être by Cédric Klapisch
  Un pur moment de rock ’n roll by Manuel Boursinhac
  Quasimodo d’el Paris by Patrick Timsit
  Le Sourire du clown by Eric Besnard
  Nag la bombe by Jean Louis Milesi
1998 Grève party by Fabien Onteniente
  Petits désordres amoureux by Olivier Peray
  A tout de suite by Douglas Law
  Petits enfers by Edouard Deluc
  Suzy vend des sushis sans sursis by Delphine Quentin (short)
1997 Just do it by Frédéric Chèze, Denis Thybaud (short)
1996 Les Randonneurs by Philippe Harel
  La Vérité si je mens! by Thomas Gilou
1995 Le Plus bel âge by Didier Haudepin
  Enfants de salaud by Tonie Marshall
1994 Le Péril jeune by Cédric Klapisch

Cécile de France

2006 Mon colonel by Laurent Herbiet
  Où est la main de l’homme sans tête? by Stéphane Malandrin, Guillaume Malandrin
  Fauteuils d’orchestre by Danièle Thompson
  Quand j’étais chanteur by Xavier Giannoli
  Mauvaise Foi by Roschdy Zem
  C’est la coutume by Roschdy Zem
  J’aurais voulu être un danseur by Alain Berliner
2004 Les Poupées russes by Cédric Klapisch
2003 Moi César 10 ans 1/2, 1m 39 by Richard Berry
  La Confiance règne by Etienne Chatiliez
2002 Loup! by Zoé Galeron
  Haute tension by Alexandre Aja
  Regarde-moi (en face) by Marco Nicoletti
2001 A + Pollux by Luc Pagès
  L’Art délicat de la séduction by Richard Berry
  L’Auberge espagnole by Cédric Klapisch
  Irène by Ivan Calbérac
2000 Toutes les nuits by Eugène Green
  Le Mariage en papier by Stéphanie Duvivier

Interview with Alain Berliner (director)

How did this film come about?
The starting point was a script about three parallel plots that end up overlapping. One of them, which had to do with a family secret that repeated itself from generation to generation, I liked a lot more than the others. It was crowded out by the two other plots and I wasn’t able to develop it like I wanted to, unless I made a three-hour film out of it, so I chose to isolate it and rewrite another script based on it.

In my reading, and through stories I had heard, I realized just how much some people unconsciously follow in their parents’ footsteps and show them a sort of destructive loyalty, recreating from generation to generation the same behaviors, the same mistakes.J’aurais voulu être un danseur

Did you have any special challenges in getting this unique, genre-mixing project off the ground?
The film is a Belgian, French, Luxembourgian and English co-production. The number of co-producing countries demonstrates just how complicated it was to set up. The mix of genres, and also this story of a guy who wants to become a dancer, with this whole psychological and “psycho-genealogical” aspect, made the film complicated for decision makers to read. They didn’t really know how to classify it.

The editing of the film is very important. You feel like it has its own writing style.
Absolutely. For me, there are three writing styles in the film. That of the script, that of the shoot and then the real writing, the edit. In the script, everything is allowed, you can dream. Then on the shoot, everything is fragmented; you’re filming in disorder and, quite frankly, in the middle of the shoot there’s always a moment when I no longer know quite what’s going on. In the edit, I have to go with what I’ve got and I reorganize the tale depending on what I have, although, of course, I have to have enough options to do so. If there are things that aren’t exactly as I had wanted them but they’re powerful and have their own logic, I yield to them. I sort of apply the logic of a documentary.

Which scenes were the most difficult to direct? The musical scenes or the more intimate acting scenes?
J’aurais voulu être un danseurChoreography is very precise, tested and rehearsed in advance, you have very little latitude. From a technical standpoint, all the musical scenes are complicated to film but the cameramen have a good sense of rhythm, they know precisely when to come and go from one place to another. However, when tension needs to build between the characters it’s more complicated, especially as here I made the choice to say that violence need not involve shouting and extremely harsh words in order to be expressed. Sometimes just a phrase or a simple look is a lot more terrible and more destructive. When we hit someone, in a way it’s proof that we still bother to touch them and that the other still counts for something. When we say nothing, or we storm off with a single word, that’s terrible. I call that an ice-pick! It’s cold and irrevocable.

How did you work with Jean-Pierre Cassel and Vincent Elbaz on the dance scenes?
They rehearsed those numbers together. But Vincent had worked very hard on his own with the choreographer, before the shoot. In the audition scene when he’s at “Chez Pépé,” the step that Jean-Pierre has him do, he suggested it to him only a few hours before filming. It’s very rare to be able to do that. Vincent was really amazing.





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