Thursday, June 16 10.00. A gloomy looking warehouse in Anderlecht. Arrival under the drache. Not a little poetic rain, no! Historical flooding of the roadway. At the back of the parking lot, movers. At the back of the building, an old cranky freight elevator. We take it to reach the second floor. This is where the crew of Fréderic Fonteyne’s new feature film, Quartier Libre, has settled for seven days. And again… “Highly anticipated” is almost an understatement! Because Frédéric Fonteyne is rare. Four films in fifteen years. And a status of cult director since the mythical Une Liaison Pornographique in which Nathalie Baye and Sergi Lopez spiced up their respective lives by meetings in a luxury hotel. Both impersonal and torrid. Cult, we tell you…
For Quartier Libre, Frederic finds Sergi. And Jan Hamenecker, a formidable bilingual actor who revealed himself to the French-speaking public with his first feature, Max et Bobo. Three other main actors are on the set. The third male character of the trio is François Damiens, with whom Frédéric wanted to shoot for a very long time. It’s done.
These three men, each in their own way, are in love with the same woman: Anne Paulicevitch. For her first major role, the woman who is Frédéric Fonteyne’s wife in the city also has the luxury of having written the film’s script. With the help of the inevitable Philippe Blasband, because with the Fonteyne family, everything is always a family affair.
If everyone is gathered, it is because today begins the shooting of the key scene of the film, the scene 108 which will occupy the team during three long days. That of revelation. Which one is it? Don’t expect us to tell you about it….
A collective visiting room was reconstituted in the building, because yes, we are in prison. Finally, Domi and Fernand are in prison. In the same cell. They are buddies and are respectively the lover and the husband of Alice. JC, the third thief, is watching over us. Normal, he is a guard. For the scene of the day, François Damiens is rather discreet. He walks around the bare and sad room, but only appears in case of a ruckus or to ask the visitors to return to their homes. Alice, he knew her by chance. During a tango class. Because dance plays a big role in the film. Obviously, the beauty did not leave her indifferent. Jealous, he doesn’t really hate it. Although
Today, Alice did not come alone to the prison. She is accompanied by Antonio. His son. A rebellious fifteen year old, the blond boy does not accept what he perceives of his mother’s dissolute life. We feel it is on the verge of breaking down. It’s not going to get any better.
Three lovers and a son
For this role, Artemis, which is co-producing the film with Samsa and Une Liaison cinématographique, had considered a national casting. Who does not have this place. Because in the meantime, Anne Paulicevitch has seen on the set of Les Géants, a young charismatic and fascinating boy: Zacharie Chasseriaud, the spiritual son of Bouli himself. His presence is obvious. 2011 is for him the first great year of a career that we would be surprised if it is not exceptional. With a sharp tongue, Zach takes advantage of the many technical setups between shots to go from table to table, from station to station, talking with everyone, extras, assistants, cameramen, sound engineers… Hyper sociable, the mutinous elf is interested in everything. Without complex, he captures the attention, asks lots of questions, makes jokes, banters with Sergi Lopez with whom he has developed a special relationship.
Sergi, on the other hand, conforms to the image that people have of him. Extremely kind, hyper professional, he enters and exits his role in the blink of an eye. Say “engine” and his eyes darken, the tension can be read on his face. He handles sentences and silences with a fascinating skill. Jan Hamenecker has little to do today. The lens does not focus on him. For the daytime shots, he is more of a silhouette in the background. A favorite actor and close friend of Frédéric Fonteyne, he is also a magnificent availability. This is a constant on this set where no one senesces. Not a word out of place. Not the slightest sign of agitation. The atmosphere is familiar. Frédéric sees to that. Holds it.
Those who only know him from his hidden cameras and his major film roles would be surprised to see François Damiens on a film set. Of a terrible discretion, self-effacing, shy even, he goes unnoticed. The extras talking in the corridor are astonishing each other. Between two takes, François willingly disappears into his dressing room or secretes Gsm in his ear. But as soon as he gets the chance, the natural joker takes over. Noticing that a cushion had been placed on Zach’s chair to elevate him, he took a break to empty a bottle of mineral water onto the fabric. Guaranteed reaction from the next take.
One woman, one man
In front of all these men, a woman: Anne Paulicevitch. She is a screenwriter and, for the first time, the lead actress in a feature film. Compared to her colleagues, we notice her more concentrated, more inhabited by her role. It must be said that the short scene that confronts her today with Sergi Lopez is particularly intense. When she leaves the camera, her lips are still trembling. It is true that more than the other actors, they carry much of the weight of the project on their frail shoulders. This is a big challenge, but from what we have seen, she doesn’t have to worry too much about it: it might even be time for her to find an agent. Because no, at the moment, she still doesn’t have one.
Discreet in the morning during a scene of massive displacement orchestrated by his chief operator and directed in a stentorian voice by Manu Kamanda, efficient assistant director, Frédéric Fonteyne takes the reins in the afternoon for a much more intimate and important moment. He advises, reframes, suggests, discusses with everyone, arranges the dialogue, underlines a successful improvisation. Because this is another characteristic of this film, although it is very well written: the actors do not necessarily stick to their lines. Depending on the mood of the moment or the opportunity, they can smooth or tighten a reply. Suddenly impelling more emotion or anger.
Virginie Saint-Martin, Carlo Thoss, Marc Bastien, Thomas Gauder, Garance Van Rossum, Catherine Marchand, Ewin Rijchaert : the technical team assembled by Frédéric Fonteyne is a kind of Belgian-Luxembourg dream team. The expression makes Frédéric smile: “It’s just my team. The team that has supported me since I started. Faithful people. Friends. Working with them is just natural.
Next week, the team will pack up. And will go to Poland where the scouts have found the prison that will serve as a setting for a good third of the film. Then, after a break, a last series of scenes will be shot in September. In the meantime, in our Grand Ecran n°4, to be discovered at the beginning of August on this site and in theaters, we will present you some images of the film, a behind-the-scenes look and interviews. And until then? Quartier Libre !