Director Samuel Theis is inspired by his humble childhood in Lorraine to “Little Nature”, a magnificent social mural filmed as a child. The film has been selected for the 2021 Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week.
Long hair, piercing blue eyes, Johnny (the extraordinary Alyosha Reinert) is ten years old, he is smart and sensitive. But at his age, he’s only interested in adult stories. In his apartment complex HLM Forbach in Lorraine, he watches with curiosity the tumultuous sentimental life of his young mother, a cigarette saleswoman on the Franco-German border. He takes care of his younger sister and mother when she comes home drunk and can’t count on her older brother or anyone else. Until the day when a new teacher, Monsieur Adamski, comes into his class and introduces him to books, poetry and art. Thanks to him, Johnny realizes that he is a person charged with possibilities, body, heart, destiny in motion. It no longer survives, it exists.
>> To see the movie trailer:
A movie about awakening
“Little Nature” is a film about emotional, intellectual and sexual awakening. It is also largely autobiographical. “I took as a starting point for this film the realization that I had quite early, at the age of ten, this feeling of wanting to leave, not to feel like the rest of my family. I was crowded in my area, I had the feeling that there was not much to dream about. This feeling is very 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 director Samuel Theis in RTS.
After filming his own mother and her career as a cabaret coach in his first film, The Party Girl, Samuel Theis repeated the experience of working with non-professional comedians who live in the region where the film was made: “I wanted to paint a portrait of a child, but also of a social setting and territory. I also shoot these faces as landscapes. They carry a life, a strong extra-chamber. I decided to give these characters the status of fictional heroes, because the stories of these lives have the same value as the lives of characters who would live in large Parisian apartments or in beautiful villas in the south of France. However, the film does not allow any suffering or a look of pity to seep into this social and intellectual misery.
>> To find out, interview with Samuel Theis at “12:45”:
Discomfort in the game
Starting with a very written and structured script that he reads to his actors, the director then lets them improvise without having to memorize the text. “I have the impression that in the game it is important to find this place where you are in the form of discomfort, constant danger. As in life, you do not know what will happen to us in the next minute.
The entire film was shot from a child’s height and offers this view of the world, with all the opacity that comes with it, as some things elude young Johnny. “What separates adults from children is the issue of responsibility. They do not fall on us at the age of 18, on the day of our majority, they are acquired with experience. And all my characters are still in the game. A test of that responsibility,” explains Samuel Theis. Johnny’s young mother, who struggles alone between her three children and her job, is no exception.
“Little Nature” echoes entirely the question of the class defector, described in particular by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the writers Annie Ernault, Didier Eribon, or Édouard Louis. Breaking away from his environment, a person does not necessarily enter a new world. We stay a little between them. And this obliges us in a certain way to pay tribute to the world that we left, ”concludes the director.
An interview with Ann Laure Hannack and Julie Evard.
Web Design: Melissa Hartel
“Little Nature” is currently on screens in French-speaking Switzerland.