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2008 Festival Feature Films (March 28-30)

Un secret

French director Françoise Marie and French producer Annie Miller present the North American premiere of the documentary film On dirait que…

director Françoise Marie screenplay Françoise Marie associate producer Annie Miller
Farmers’ children: Pauline Combaudon, Mathilde Courdert, Maureen Coudert, Nicolas Desgranges, Fabien Leclair, Clément Lerousseau, Jean Lerousseau, Laura Peyrot, Baptiste Peyrot  Restaurant owners’ children: Pauline Brun, Tara Di Piazza, Léa Lhermite, Victor Morin  Oyster-farmer’s child: Nicolas Castro  Policemen’s children: Maud Berjon, Valentin Michaud, Corentin Didou, Maud Walliang
Doctors’ children: Julie Caretti, Marie Hintzy, Augustin Ducret  Circus performers’ children: Nabil Hakkar, Alice Kudlak, Thaïs Miny, Marius Miny  Teachers’ children:
Louis Fages, Pauline Gonzalez, Mathieu Muller, Thibault Rangier  Grocers’ children:
Yasmine Ben Khaled, Chamientha Justin-Leslie, Kubra Karaca, Mickaël Oliva
running time 1 h 22 min general audience


“Let’s say ... ” and imaginations take flight.

Rather than playing cowboys and Indians, children from 8 to 13 years old, sons and daughters of doctors, farmers, policemen and grocers, play their parents’ professions on camera.

Nothing is written down or rehearsed. They improvise as their fancy takes them and thereby show us the world as they understand it or guess it to be. Have these stories been experienced, heard or seen on TV? Are they the products of active imaginations or faithful snapshots of reality? Through their perceptions of these jobs and the challenges, pleasures and sorrows that come with them, children tell us a great deal about adults!

Françoise Marie

1999 Petites histoires de reins du tout (VCU French Film Festival 10)

Annie Miller

2003 La Petite Lili by Claude Miller
2001 Un petit cas de conscience by Marie-Claude Treilhou
2000 Un dérangement considérable by Bernard Stora
  La Chambre des magiciennes by Claude Miller
  Betty Fisher et autres histoires by Claude Miller
  La Tartine by Nathan Miler
1999 Calino-Maneige by Jean-Patrick Lebel
  Les Aventures de Tioui: La fontaine magique by Yves Verhoeven
  Les Aventures de Tioui: Mon meilleur ami by Yves Verhoeven
1998 La Classe de neige by Claude Miller
1997 Sapeur! by Nathan Miler
1994 Le Sourire by Claude Miller

Interview with Françoise Marie (director)

How did the idea for the film originate?
Several years ago, a friend, a psychologist in a pediatric kidney ward, talked to me about the children she worked with whose lives alternated between school, home and hospital.

I wanted to avoid making a film whose underlying foundation was compassion. Then came the idea of suggesting they play doctor. Everything became apparent through play — their maturity, the sharpness of their perceptions, their sense of humor. What’s more, playing put them in the position of people and no longer that of “sick children.” The principle of role play is interesting. The person we’re pretending to be is not us, so the children can hide behind the role and make the characters say things they would maybe not allow themselves to say.

How did you arrive at exploring the world of work?
I wanted to observe how kids see the adult world — what they feel, On dirait que…what they understand when they hear us talk, interact and do business. The idea I started off with was to choose professions that children felt close to in their everyday lives. The jobs chosen relate to essential, basic things that resonate with our imagination — feeding ourselves, taking care of people. These are “generic” jobs that are part of our social environment and that we’ve all come into contact with at one time or another. We’ve all gone to the doctor, to school, to a local grocer, to a farm or the circus. We’ve all had to deal with a police officer.

About Françoise Marie’s On dirait que

As creative documentaries are increasingly rare in non-TV formats and running times, Petites histoires de reins du tout garnered much attention in short film circles in 1999 and directly established the approach director Françoise Marie adopts once again with On dirait que… In the first project, sick children, whose lives are punctuated by exhausting dialysis sessions, take to the set. Through role play, the setting showed the daily reality of these children, who differ slightly from their peers but captivate the audience, and adopted a playful tone made all the more powerful by its lack of pathos.

On dirait que…

With On dirait que…, the subject is less heartrending but the approach is similar: several groups of children play before the camera, this time providing their observations, through skits and interviews, on their parents’ professions (which are as emblematic as policeman, grocer, teacher and farmer).

Behind the acute observations of these 10-year-olds, who sometimes ham it up, is an original vision, going straight to the heart of the matter. The period and social climate gradually become clear, raising, without seeming to, themes such as immigration, education, law enforcement, even the social value of culture. This method of questioning reality and the narrative device used make this debut feature-length documentary a fascinating experiment.




Virginia Commonwealth University University of Richmond University of Richmond