• Other gems



Téano Horn, Léo Bayle

Catherine misses her Flixbus and finds herself stuck on a highway rest area, somewhere in the south of France. With no other choice, she starts walking along the autoroute, through industrial countrysides where she meets the Marseille pharaoh. This mystical and buffoonish figure leads her through the wastelands of the peri-urban world, explored in wide-screen shots that stretch distances and stress the emptiness of space. Catherine will meet corrupt bosses and Tesla-driving tech-world pollyanas, encounter a ceremony celebrating the mysterious Catfish-man whose coming so many faithful are awaiting… A picaresque journey through the margins, across folk fantasies revisited through the lens of a slowly crumbling post-industrial society.

Nathan Letoré

Téano Horn, Léo Bayle

Your film is a journey into different types of contemporary imaginations. How did this project come about ?

The project came out of our meeting at the Haute école des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg. Right from the start, there was mutual curiosity. Léo described himself as a “local science fiction” author. He was interested in Occitan folklore and did drawings using the software Paint. His artistic practice was eclectic. On my side, I painted large-scale landscapes: abandoned buildings drowned in vegetation (film sets, ruins, and caravans). I also made videos with friends about cycling, dance, and meteorites… Léo and I shared the idea that the artificialisation of territories, along with biological disaster, were causing a collapse of our imaginations. In the summer of 2022, I worked in Berlin as an assistant to the artist Omer Fast during the production and shooting of a feature-length film. Whilst there, I met Victor Gütay, who become our director of photography and coproducer. During Omer’s shoot, I glimpsed the possibility of directing a narrative feature film, and realised that money wasn’t the issue. I returned to Strasbourg in the autumn with sufficient confidence to propose to Léo that we give it a try. He was immediately on board. Izïa, who already had experience in costume and video, joined the team and became an essential part of it. As for the writing, we started out with an idea she’d had during a Flixbus trip: she imagined a girl left behind at a motorway rest area who then gets lost in industrial fringes.

The industrial backdrops of southern France play a fundamental role in the film. How did you find them? What part did they play in the film’s development?

Léo Bayle : The film is very much based on the landscapes I used to see during my Blablacar journeys to high school. They guided our narrative writing and were the story’s starting point and common thread. We wanted to open up uncharted territory, to take the viewer into spaces ones sees from the motorway but never stops at. The shapes of these infrastructures are determined by their uses, but if we forget their rational functions, they are transformed and become huge creatures, fascinating in their scale and monstrosity. There is a certain truth to these zones: desolation is not concealed. The setting embodies disenchantment. We wanted the viewer to envisage the pylons as totems.

Did the importance of the landscape determine your choice of widescreen?

Yes, widescreen seemed the best way to present these landscapes. This format has a “grandiose” aspect that we wanted to play with. It was a challenge. At the very beginning of the process, Victor cut out a piece of paper, drew a long horizontal rectangle representing the format and wrote on it “this is the film”. Then he hung the paper on the wall. Despite our modest means, we wanted to appropriate the lavish, high-end look of cinema images. For us, this film was an experiment between cinema and video; between professionalism and amateurism; between organization and improvisation.

The film is also a gallery of characters, of which two are protagonists. How did you work with your actors? What part did they play in developing the characters?

The film was made very quickly, in a state of euphoria. We didn’t do any casting; we trusted our friends and found our characters together. Our characters embodied our actors rather than the other way around. Our first shoot was in February 2023 and then, after a few months of editing, we organised a second shoot in November 2023. When Camille arrived at the second shoot, she was blond, so it didn’t look right. By filming her change of hair colour, we turned it into a narrative element serving the film. The costumes also shaped the characters. Life in society is a game of appearances. In our film, the costumes make the characters. We also drew on elements of the Occitan carnival. Carnival is traditionally a time for poking fun at the superficiality and arbitrariness of the social order, and for turning that order on its head.

Interview by Nathan Letoré

  • Other gems
18:4526 June 2024Variétés 1
11:4530 June 2024Artplexe 1

Technical sheet

France, Germany / 2024 / Colour / 68'

Original version: French
Subtitles: English
Script: Izïa Holleville, Téano Horn, Léo Bayle
Photography: Victor Gütay
Editing: Téano Horn, Victor Gütay
Music: Valérian Gago Beaufour
Sound: Clara-Louise Hoffsaes, Robin Plastre
Cast: Camille Touvenot, Rémy Thelier

Production: Victor Gütay (L’étale films), Téano Horn (Téano Horn)
Contact: Téano Horn

Filmography: First Film