Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interview: Caroline du Potet, Writer/Director 'In Their Sleep'

I was recently given the opportunity to interview first time director Caroline du Potet. The French filmmaker's film, In Their Sleep recently screened at Elisabeth Fies' Bleedfest Film Festival. It's a taut emotional thriller, packed with many twists and turns.

A short synopsis of the film is as follows:

A woman driving along a road one night hits a young man who's running across the road. She picks him up and at his urgent request, she drives off and away from the scene as an unknown pursuer advances.

We come to find that this man who's pursuing him is after him for a particular reason. As the woman takes the young man into her home and her care, the mystery of what he's done is unraveled and as it goes, things are not always as they seem.

Here is what Caroline had to say about her film, the idea behind it and how you can check out the film for your very selves.

Cortez the Killer: How did you get involved with Elisabeth Fies and Bleedfest?

Caroline du Potet: Elisabeth saw In Their Sleep at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival where we won the Best Director award. She loved the film and asked me if she could screen it at her festival.

CTK: Tell us a little bit about In Their Sleep. What was the main idea behind it?

CDP: The concept of the story originated on the idea that appearances can be deceptive and the "monster" is not always who they seem to be. That's why we chose from the beginning to write a screenplay with a non linear structure. Unlike the classical villain which is always a beast without any feelings, we wanted to create an ambivalent character, half demon, half angel. We wanted to show that even if this guy does horrible things, he can also be human at times.

CTK: What has reaction towards the film been like? Has it played at any festivals?

CDP: In Their Sleep didn't go well at all in France but was sold in about fifteen countries around the world, which is very well for a French film. The film did the opening of Gerardmer Film Festival, the most important fantasy film festival in France. It has also been screened at the Colcoa French Film Festival in LA, and won two awards at Brussels Film Festival and at the Bram Stoker Film Festival in England. And there is also Bleedfest of course.

CTK: The production team consists of members who worked on the film Inside (aka À l'intérieur), one of the most brutal and unrelenting horror films of the past decade. Was there any time at all during the production of the film that you had to keep it from moving into the horror realm and keep the focus on it being a thriller?

CDP: From the beginning, Eric and I decided that the violence on the screen had to be realistic, without bloody effects. We didn't want to make a pure horror film because it was important that people who are not big fans of that kind of film would still be able to understand and appreciate it. However, it was essential for us to show the death of the little girl because it really shows the killer's madness. As we didn't want to be too revealing, we chose to film the face of the killer at this moment and not the girl. And the suggestion (of something happening) is often far more frightening.

CTK: Over the past decade, we have seen some really fantastic feature films coming out of France, particularly in the genres of horror and thriller. It would appear that French filmmakers are taking more risks and being less conventional with some of their films. Would you agree with that statement?

CDP: As French horror films are most of the time very low budget, French directors can make the film they want, without any studio pressure or censorship, that's why perhaps they are taking more risks. Nevertheless, a lot of films are only pale imitations of American films. Of course there are also original and surprising works with a treatment very different from Hollywood movies or other French films. But in my opinion there are still too few French horror films to draw a general portrait.

CTK: Who are some of your filmmaking influences, both past and present?

CDP: For In Their Sleep, our biggest influences were Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs and John Boorman's Deliverance. In general, I love Stanley Kubrick's and Hitchock's films, as well as the work done by Steven Spielberg in Jaws and Duel. At present, my favorite filmakers are James Gray and David Fincher.

CTK: In Their Sleep saw a Video On Demand release on December 10th. Will it see a DVD or BluRay release anytime thereafter?

CDP: In Their Sleep is being released by the new IFC "Midnight" label to distribute genre films. I think there will be a DVD release soon but I don't have more information at the moment.

CTK: Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

CDP: We are currently working on a new French project, a "Hitchcockian" thriller called Totem. It will be more psychological than In Their Sleep. We'd like to shoot it next year in the south of France.

In Their Sleep is now available for rent on selected cable on demand TV services. We'll post more information about the film's DVD/BluRay release as we receive it.

Cortez the Killer

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