With the film Les Amandiers, in theaters since last Wednesday, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi brings the students of the eponymous theater school in Nanterre back to life in the 1980s with flamboyant and galvanizing energy.
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi superbly recreates the atmosphere of the acting school of the Théâtre des Amandiers, created by Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Romans in Nanterre in 1986, and which she attended in the midst of a whole exceptional generation of actors. Find our chronicle same here
The actress and director came to Lyon during the Lumière festival to present her film at the comoedia with some of her young actors and told us about her memories of youth and theater with her sweet madness and her enthusiasm which characterize her. A very nice moment and A very beautiful film to see in theaters this weekend!
The School of Almond Trees, the ultimate grail
Entering Les Amandiers was a bit like entering a dream. It was the place where all the young actresses and all the young actors of the time wanted to be. I think about Bruno Todeschini to Marianne Denicourt, via Vincent Peres, Thibault de Montalembert or Agnès Jaoui.
There was an incredible effervescence there with great actors who passed, like Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve who came to all the work of the pupils, Juliette Binoche and Leos Carax who came to the musicals or the singer Barbara who repeated in the theater the musical tale lily passion with Gerard Depardieu.
The Almond Trees seemed to be the center of Europe as the character of the upset waitress and actress in the film says, a fictional character but who was important to me as a character outside the actors, and to be able to make her say what I wanted to say on this place.
… but also a place of suffering
At first it was intense and joyful. But this school was also painful. We were also anxious.Some have stopped doing this job.
Others died. It was not only a walk towards the light, but also towards the shadow.
In the interviews I did with former school friends to prepare for the film, they all start talking about their experience with a smile and then end with a strange feeling.
They agree it was dark and dangerous. As if there was a possible tragedy.
A film as a tribute to Patrice Chéreau
I miss Chereau a lot today.
He made me want to get in touch with the deepest, strongest and most amazing emotions.
He had a particular vision of the world, with a lot of humor and tragic sides.
He really pushed us to our limits and destabilized us. We see it in the documentary Once upon a time there were 19 actors which was shot in school days. He put us in a little danger.
But the idea of being destabilized at work stayed with me. I think if a job doesn’t unsettle us in some way, then there’s something wrong.
We don’t necessarily work in comfort (smiles)..
I had a bit of difficulty in sketching the character of Patrice Chéreau, I was too much in adoration, veneration, I couldn’t find the necessary distance. And yet he was far from being a saint, she way of directing us, for example, could be quite painful.
What is certain is how important it was that Louis GarrelWho’s playing Patrick never tried to imitate him. But to “see” Patrick through LouisI needed certain gestures, I am thinking in particular of his way of smoking the little cigars of Patrick
Dive into the emotions of an era
I didn’t want to do a historical or biographical reconstruction strictly speaking, rather an immersion in the emotions of an era.
This often starts with a decorative element. I often said to the decorator, Emmanuelle Duplay, that the phone booth was necessary to tell about those years. A loving conversation in this small space has nothing to do with the one you hold on your cell phone.
We don’t say “hello” the same way, we don’t hang up the same way. Similarly, we do not make the same trip in the car with music that comes from an old car radio, than on Bluetooth speakers.
A repetition while smoking is not the same when the cigarette is prohibited.
It’s a host of details that bring back the memories carnally. I was trying to get young actresses and actors to experience emotions such as they passed through us thirty-five years ago.
Directing the young actors of the film, a way of reforming the school of almond trees 35 years later
We sometimes had the impression, with the casting director Marion Touatithat we were rebuilding a school.
Casting time lasted six months. I met all these young people who were called back, who had hope and, sometimes, you had to disappoint, because choosing means saying no to many.
I would like to pay tribute to the actors who were not taken because I met magnificent young people.
Like in the school run by the director Pierre Romansplayed exceptionally well by Micha Lescot, we immediately worked on rehearsing a lot.
Les Amandiers, in theaters since Wednesday, November 16
Interview with Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi for Les Amandiers conducted on October 18, 2022 at Comoedia
Thanks to the cinema and to the distributor AD VITAM.