LES MAUVAISES HERBES, directed by Louis Bélanger and written by Louis Bélanger, Alexis Martin, and starring Alexis Martin, Gilles Renaud, Emmanuelle Lussier-Martinez, Luc Picard... is my new favorite movie!!
got up at 7:45 am for the 8:30 screening. It was a full house - the
movie had its world premiere in Santa Barbara that weekend. I don't
think there's a trailer online with english subtitles yet, but here is
the french one anyway. I want everyone to see this movie! I laughed hard
and giggled with delight and cried a little too. It's a farce set in
the woods in a Quebec winter. The Q&A with Bélanger and festival programmer Michael Albright is below.
spoke in some broken english, but got up to thank everyone after the
ovation and immediately spoke about his movie: I wanted to do something
about what happens if you put a street wise guy with the rural wisdom
guy. If you put them together for a whole winter, what would happen,
what would be their daily life? When I started to write the project I
realized that they get along quite fast. So I had to have this young
girl that kind of gives another push to the script. It gives another
drive to the film. And then we would be able to talk about this
Albright: I appreicate the mix between drama and
comedy. I know you have influences with the Czech new wave and I think
it's just a brilliant balance. How do you get that tone just right?
It's not easy because right at the beginning, the distributors and
people who finance the film always say care when you say you want to
have a few different tones. Because people want to put your film in a
box. 'Is it a comedy, is it a drama? When you start to say, “We're gonna
mix all of them,” they feel uncomfortable with this. But, I strongly
believe that it is possible. It's just a matter of writing it and
directing it...I like it when you laugh after you almost cry. When I
was studying at the film school, I wasn’t going there that much. Right
beside the street there was a cinemteque. It was two bucks to go there,
so basically I spent all of my university years not in school but at the
movies. I was some sort of rat over there. We were having fun seeing
films, going to the bar and discussing it, seeing some girl thinking one
day we would be "cineaste" that was the perfect school for us.
Albright: What are the logistics of filming with marijuana?
I was a bit naive. I thought it would be really cheap to film because
it’s mostly one location and a few exteriors. but we had the weed which
was 2000 plants. And it’s really 4x2000 because they’re at different
lengths throughout the film. It was the metaphor, the friendship during
the growing. Plus, it was the coldest winter we had since we have been
recording the winter forecast. It was minus 35 most of the day. If it
would have been real pot, we probably would have lost the entire thing
almost ten times. Because we lost electricity, it was a nightmare. I
thought we could get medical marijuana to donate but they said this is
for medicine not cinema. I said, "ok ill go to hells angels," my
producer said, "you you don’t want to deal with those people they don’t
provide receipts.” The artistic director said, “please stop thinking
about it i’ll take care of it. It's gonna be plastic.”
An audience member asked about distribution for the film. The answer shocked me since the movie is so good.
Distribution is breaking my heart all the time” The film will be
released in Canada on the 7th of March…. But the problem is to encourage
the distributor that the people want to see different films and foreign
films. I know that your people are curious and we have to convince the
distributor that he has to make people see other films. Plus the thing
is, once the distributor gets back his investment, usually they stop
working on the film. It’s tough as a director because you always have to
be bugging them, on the phone saying ‘Please, submit the film to
festivals.’ I’m not that type of guy. I don’t want to be the guy who’s
moaning and complaining and saying… in that situation I say well let's
work on the next project because I don’t want to get depressed about
distribution. It's always the big battle for me. I know people will come
to see the film its just a matter of providing the film.
wrote the script with the guy who embodied the character of the actor.
It's our 3rd film together. We made one documentary and two fiction
films together. He usually writes plays, so I try to tell him, go with
your ideas, Il'l do the cinematic aspects. We always try to not give
everything to the audiences right at the start, it’s always fun to
discover a character in some sort of mutation. When you think you know a
character, there’s a scene coming that will give you new information
about the character. its fun when you are in an intellectual process
while viewing a film.
On casting: I never do casting. For
my entire this is my 9th fiction film, because i know the actors in
Quebec, i go often to theatre, I also direct theatre, and I’m a family
man with my actors. the guy who embodies Simone, this is our 5th film
together. The two goons, we have done 3 films together. Most of those
people, they are not only actors — I go fishing with them, we play
petanque, we eat together, i know their girlfriends or wives… for me,
being a filmmaker is not a way of earning my living it’s a way of
living. Those people became my friends and i say I’ve got this project.
You know I read this book - jacques casavetis ? basically he was working
with his friend. Only the younger girl, she’s 26 and I’m 50 so we don’t
speak very much. That was her first feature film. I knew with her
audition right away we had her because she can confront, and she’s not
trying to seduce them. And young actresses often try to seduce their
partner or the camera or even the director, and I’m searching for
realism that is not seducing so she fit perfectly.