May 6, 2014

Philippe Lacôte grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater called "Le Magic". In 1989 he was a radio reporter. Later, he made his first short films: "The Messenger" and "Affaire Libinski". They were shown in several international festivals. Alongside these narrative-driven fictions, he has developed, since 2002, documentary work through films written in the first person ("Cairo Hours", "Chroniques de la Guerre en Côte d’Ivoire"). Run, supported by the ACPCultures + Programme, is his first full-length feature film. The film project was selected by the Festival de Cannes Cinéfondation in 2012. Run is in official selection "Un Certain Regard"of the Festival de Cannes 2014.

Le réalisateur Philippe Lacôte © DR

Your film, Run, looks back to the recent history of civil war in Ivory Coast. In 2008 you directed a documentary entitled “Chroniques de guerre en Côté d’Ivoire (“Chronicles Of War In Ivory Coast)". Why it is important for you to make films on the unrest in your country, Ivory Coast?

I have not chosen to bear witness to the history of Ivory Coast in my films. I arrived in Adidjan the 15th of Septembre 2002 with the desire to film, to analyse the situation, through the tragic destiny of a childhood friend: Barbenoire. Three days after, the rebellion broke out. I filmed my neighbourhood, Yopougon, during the first three weeks of curfew. Somehow, the subject imposed itself.. Apart from these coincidences, which I don’t really define as such, I love when cinema takes its strength from reality. There is a true narrative strength in politics. It might be the last area which combines with an amazing brutality the tragic with the heroic.

Run has been officially selected for the 67th Festival of Cannes, in the category "Un Certain Regard" (literally "A Particular Outlook"). What is your state of mind just a few days before the opening of the Festival?

My first feeling is curiosity, the one of meeting directors from all over the world and seeing, through the selection, which aspects of the world the directors depict nowadays. Our official selection does not represent the end. It is the result of a team-work started years ago, through short films and documentaries. It was a period during which I learnt to deal with and go deep into my imperfections, to assert a strong position trying, at the same time, to accept critics. I am also happy for my country, Ivory Coast, coming back on the international film stage.

 What has the support of the ACPCultures+ Programme provided you?

Money! Consequently, the resources for filming. Our application for the ACPCultures+ Programme included training workshops for young actors, in partnership with the Goethe Institut of Abidjan. It included also activities aiming at sharing skills between professionals from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, two fraternal countries. Your support allowed us to implement these two projects.

Sur le tournage du film "Run" © Banshee Films / Wassakara Productions

Along with the production and the film shooting, training activities for local young people were held. How did they go? What are the expected results?

These training activities were mostly addressed to young actors. It is important to remind that the war in Ivory Coast swept away several tools, particularly in the culture sector. There is no school of actors anymore. We thought it was important to act at that level. Young actors and technicians, who attended the training activities and took part in the film afterwards, are currently becoming professionals. They have been recruited for several film shootings and they’ve got a remuneration. It is a new cinema generation for Ivory Coast, and it might be a new start.

How did you collaborate with your partners, Banshee Films and Diam Production?

My collaboration with Banshee Films and Diam Production is mainly a story of meetings and people: Claire Gadéa, the French producer who has been supporting my work since my first short films, and Michael K. Zongo, producer and film maker from Burkina Faso. There is also Ernst Konan, the Wassakara Production Ivorian producer, who is a childhood friend. With these people, I’ve got a relationship of trust to the service of the film.  

 Are there any aspects of the implementation of your project that you consider particularly positive and that could serve as examples for others?

The selection at Cannes brings us to look back and to seek the reasons why we succeeded in persuading such exigent partners as the TV Channel ARTE or the Commission of “Avance sur recettes” of the french Centre National du Cinéma (CNC). For me it’s the result of the development work started from the beginning with Isabelle Fauvel and the organization Initiative Films. Isabelle guided us in asking the right questions, defining a real strategy and in giving an identity to the project. This is a film that has always be confronted to the news and different points of views.

The Ministry of Culture of Ivory Coast supports your film. What kind of support does it bring to you?

Ivory Coast did for this film something that it had never done before. Its support means an advance on revenues of 150 000 Euros. During the film shooting, the Ministry gave a logistical support and facilitated the requested authorisations. The Minister of Culture, M. Maurice Bandaman, is strongly involved in the film’s support. He came to Cannes two years ago to bring his official support while the film was at the scenario stage.

 What are the strongest memories you keep from the film shooting?

A vivid memory of the film shooting is when we filmed in a former headquarter of the FPI, the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo. The following day, the press supporting the party launched a campaign accusing us to produce false evidences accusing their leader at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Suddenly, the reality we talked about in our fiction bursts during the film shooting!

What do you think of the current film production in Sub-Saharian Africa?

My perception is very critical but, at the same time, full of hope. 

Sur le tournage du film “Run”© Banshee Films / Wassakara Productions


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