“Petite nature”, director Samuel Theis’ moving return – rts.ch

Director Samuel Theis is inspired by his humble childhood in Lorraine with “Petite nature”, a magnificent social fresco filmed on a par with a child. The film was selected for Critics’ Week at the Cannes 2021 Film Festival.

Long hair, piercing blue eyes, Johnny (extraordinary Aliocha Reinert) is ten years old, he is intelligent and sensitive. But at his age, he is only interested in adult stories. In his HLM residential area of ​​Forbach, Lorraine, he curiously observes the turbulent sentimental life of his young mother, a cigarette seller on the French-German border. He takes care of his little sister and his mother when she comes home drunk and can’t count on her big brother or anyone. Until the day a new teacher, Monsieur Adamski, arrives at his class and introduces him to books, poetry and art. Thanks to him, Johnny realizes that he is an individual loaded with possibilities, a body, a heart, a destiny on the way. It no longer survives, it exists.

>> To see the trailer for the movie:

A film about awakenings

“Petit nature” is a film about emotional, intellectual and sexual awakening. It is also largely autobiographical. “I based this film on this realization, which I had quite early, at the age of ten, of this feeling of wanting to get away, of not feeling like the rest of my family. I felt cramped in my area, I had the feeling that it did not give much to dream about.This feeling is quite disturbing when you are a child, especially when you love your family, because it means that at some point you will have to leave it “, Says the director. Samuel Theis to RTS.

After filming his own mother and her career as a cabaret trainer in his first film “Party Girl”, Samuel Theis repeated the experience of working with non-professional comedians living in the region where the film was shot: “I would paint a portrait of a child but also of a social environment and a territory.I also film these faces as landscapes.They carry a life with them, a strong off-camera. decided to give these characters status as fictional heroes because the stories whether these lives have as much value as those of characters who would live in large Parisian apartments or in beautiful villas in the south of France “. But the film does not allow any misery or pity to filter through on this social and intellectual poverty.

>> To discover, the interview with Samuel Theis at. “12:45”:

Petite nature, director Samuel Theis moving return / 12h45 / 8 min. / March 21, 2022

Discomfort in the game

Based on a very written and structured scenario, which he reads out to his actors, the director lets them improvise without having memorized the text. “I have the impression that what is important in the game is to find this place where you are in a kind of discomfort, of permanent danger. As in life, you do not know what will happen to us the next minute “.

The entire film was filmed at child height and offers this view of the world, with all that entails in terms of opacity as certain things escape young Johnny. “What separates adults from children is the question of responsibility. They do not fall on us when they are 18, on the day of our majority, they are acquired with experience. And all my characters are still in the game. Test of this responsibility “, explains Samuel Theis. Johnny’s young mother, struggling alone between her three children and her job, is no exception.

“Petite nature” completely reflects the question of the class defector, which is especially described by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the authors Annie Ernaux, Didier Eribon or Edouard Louis. “By tearing yourself away from your surroundings, you do not necessarily enter a new world. We become a little in between. And it obliges us in a way to do justice to the world we have left,” the director concludes. .

Interview by Anne Laure Gannac and Julie Evard.

Webdesign: Melissa Härtel

“Petite nature” is currently on display in French-speaking Switzerland.

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