• International Competition


César Vayssié

“This is the story of things, actions and thoughts, from the general to the specific, from the personal to the political”. This is how the colourful Ricorda ti che e un film comico opens, following César Vayssié’s heady poetical-political experiments that began with UFE (FID2016). Alix Boillot, Noémie Develay-Ressiguier, Ferdinand Vayssié, Théodora Marcadé and Gaël Sall have gathered together in the legendary Belvedere Hotel in Cebere on the French-Spanish border to put on a show, a production that is itself the subject of the play performed in front of an audience and during which the film was shot. Once again, the film and stage director explodes the logics of cinematic recording. He stages a silent choreography of bodies, to which the spoken word is added afterwards for the film. This discrepancy between the time of the recording, the body and the spoken word is the ideal space for burlesque and poetic narrative inventions. Ricorda ti che e un film comico is a joy to listen to: its libidinal drive is language, freewheeling, jubilant and delightful, with cheeky ideas, rhymes and comical, hard-hitting rejoinders. All today’s topical subjects are grist for the mill of Vayssié and his actors – desire, the fluidity of identities, horizontality and the collective, art and politics, art and the climate catastrophe, art and… so on. What would a political community look like when measured against the yardstick of artistic creation? The troublemakers get down to it with gusto, using the grotesque “Beethoven blueprint” for their methodology – the need to ‘go in blind’ in a crazy world where “everything’s on fire”. It’s hilariously desperate and above all, desperately hilarious.

Claire Lasolle

Ricorda ti che è un film comico is a show and a film at the same time. What was your project? 

I look for particular approaches that transform our relationships with cultural customs, even if this means throwing a spanner in my own works. My relationship with performance art influences my filmmaking. I pursue the idea of reducing the time between the idea and achieving it, of bringing the spontaneity of an artistic gesture back into image-making, which is traditionally very premeditated. The project was to work with the vagaries of live performance, of its time, its poetic force, with a film that bears all the marks of fiction, where, in a certain way, everything is real. 

Why did you choose the Belvedere Hotel for the shoot and how did you make use of it? 

For its symbolism in the form of an ocean liner that’s run aground or never set sail. It’s a question of point of view. A drunken, immobile boat that houses a sample of humanity adrift. The Belvedere is beautiful and impressive but it can cause a kind of anxiety about the past and fear of the future. A place of transit, a building on the border that tells of the multitude of dramatic dimensions that we addressed, the duality of the approach and the extraordinary place we seek to reach.   

Ricorda ti che è un film comico combines performance, theatre, film and dance in a constant process of creation. How did you devise this? 

My connections with performance art lie in the process of creation, research and rehearsal, which is more in tune with my way of working. In film, there isn’t any research in the practical sense (of practising). I work as though it’s a dance company in a studio creating a show. We look for the movements for a future image, we experiment with situations. I make ‘worksite’ films that bear the traces of their making and whose form is in constant flux. If I were to take this logic to its conclusion, I would change the editing with each screening. I don’t believe in the definitive act that would seal the perfection of a work. I’m precise but inaccurate. 

The text is luxuriant. How did you develop the script for this fable? 

I decided to take responsibility for the writing and threw myself unashamedly into a stream-of-consciousness text, at times emphatic, that includes my questions and convictions but also speculates about the potential desires and anxieties of the characters in situations. The writing is instinctive and head-on, borrowing and even plundering from other works, a kind of remix of existential literature (from Joachim Du Bellay to Constance Debré). It embraces the actors’ words, their way of speaking, and sometimes their inner selves.

The film is described by several voiceovers while the voices of the characters themselves are post-synchronised, out-of-sync with the actors. Why did you make these choices where the show itself becomes a mise en abyme

It’s not post-synchronisation but, in fact, exactly the opposite, it’s “pre-synchronisation” because the soundtrack is recorded before the shoot and the show. The actors evolve in a logic of playback; they hear the soundtrack and then act, a kind of minimalist choreography to their own voices, either matching or out-of-sync with the text’s meaning, to produce different aesthetic or dramatic sensations. It’s the result of a process that accumulates narrative phenomena, where the film’s status is constantly called into question and is made to lose and then find itself again. 

Different timeframes cross paths, with long sequences and shots that are almost subliminal. How did you devise the editing? 

I still have this fantasy of raw, indescribable, offhand filmmaking based on time-based and aesthetic sensations rather than on a narrative logic. The film is based on a highly elaborate dramatic study beforehand, but whose obviousness is upended during the shoot and by the editing when I rewrite the film with abandon, twisting things, taking responsibility for the contradictions and what emerges alongside the initial project. So, in a way, nothing is unexpected.

What does often-quoted Ludwig Van Beethoven represent in Ricorda ti che è un film comico

Beethoven is an artist totally out of step with the musical desires of today’s youth. This anachronism suggests the complexity of the relationship with historical guardians, the past and the permanence of existential angst, in this case, Beethoven’s strength in the face of his deafness, making music without hearing it in spite of everything. A naïve but symbolic example of force that moves forward in the face of the impossible. At the time, it was called heroic courage; today we call it resilience. Take your pick. 

So how exactly did you envisage the sound creation and music? 

The work on image and work on sound are separated. We didn’t record sound during the shoot. The words were recorded before filming. The music works in opposition to the scholarly music of Beethoven. It was created by myself under the pseudonym GROUPEDEROCK, using basic digital tools to produce small, DIY electronic pop pieces with a contemporary sound, sometimes rearranging well-known snatches of Beethoven. 

Ricorda ti che è un film comico borrows its title from a Federico Fellini quote, “Remember, this is a comedy”. How did you approach this saying?  

Fellini was depressed during the shooting of Otto e mezzo, he wrote this phrase on a sticking plaster stuck to the film camera as though to ward off the fear of making too dark a movie. Nonetheless, the film is a masterpiece that exudes existential angst. In a more conceptual way, the semantic aberration – remember, this is – underlines the chasm between performance art and film. This fits in with the movie’s twofold dimension. 

Interview by Olivier Pierre


  • International Competition

Technical sheet

France / 2023 / 131’

Rights holder
Caroline REDY