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Watch: French/Guadeloupean filmmaker Silloray talks first feature


Caribbean chatted with Silloray recently about the film, his career and his first feature.

He said he was very happy to have the film featured at the recently concluded Derby Film Festival.

A Home For These Old Bones is his first short film and he shot in back in 2013.

"So I am happy this movie has a second life with this film festival."

Silloray made three other short films after A Home For These Old Bones but it remains his favourite.

"It is the most crazy, the most personal movie that I have made."

He explained the film is about an old man living in Guadeloupe who has a little house in the countryside, but he is not the owner of the land.

"One day he discovers someone has bought the land and he has to leave. But he is old, and he has no money, no power, but he wants to keep his house and he has to fight, he has to struggle."

The old man turns to magic to keep his house as this is the only thing he can use to fight.

Silloray explained that he was not born in Guadeloupe but was raised there from childhood to age 18.

"I love this country. I consider myself as if I am coming from this country."

He noted Guadeloupe is a French Department and he wanted to make a movie about a poor black guy who has to fight against the symbol of white power.

"I used the symbol of the property and 'who owns the land?' to talk about this because it is still a question...(of) who has the power in Guadeloupe. Who owns things?"

The film has featured in the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, which is the second-largest film festival in France after Cannes. Silloray said it has also been shown in North Africa, Asia, Canada and many other places in the world.

"It's not my most successful movie, but for a first short film it travelled quite a lot."

He said the audiences had different reactions based on where they were from.

"The Caribbean audience appreciated it more than the European people because of the (very Guadelopean) humour and because there are many Caribbean references that European people don't know."

He said in Guadeloupe the movie makes people laugh a lot, though it is a bit less in France, for example.

He explained that he never attended film school so he was learning while making his first short film.

Silloray's most recent work is his short film Mortenol which is about a young boy who lives in a suburb in Guadeloupe and wants to avenge his murdered brother. The film featured at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in September and won best narrative short film.

"I love Trinidad because I have an award in Trinidad," he laughed.

He said Mortenol is currently being shown in film festivals and he would normally travel with the film, though with COVID-19 it is complicated. He explained Mortenol is very different from A Home For Old Bones as both his style and influences changed in the seven years between the two projects.

"When I was younger I loved comedy movies but after my first short film, I was more interested in realistic movies like European and French movies shot in the 50s and the 60s, and also the late 40s."

He explained these were movies with "real people" who are not actors but the director is inspired by their life and try to make a fictional story from it.

"So that is what I do now. That is the style of my last short film and that is the style I want to use for my first long feature film."

Silloray spends most of his time in Paris, France, where he lives and where he is writing that feature.

"I hope that maybe in one or two years I can shoot this first (feature-length) film. I want to shoot in Guadeloupe like all my films."

He added: "Like in Trinidad, we need to show the Caribbean countries to the world. That's my goal."

Silloray said in Guadeloupe there are not a lot of filmmakers and there are just about one or two short films produced annually, but no feature-length films. The films are funded partly by Guadeloupe but most of the funding comes from France. He explained this was also the case for his movies, and one of the stipulations is that half of the technicians come from Guadeloupe and half come from France.

"Because the industry in Guadeloupe is still beginning. There are some technicians but not for every role (in the filmmaking process)."

He said, for example, there are directors of photography in Guadeloupe but some are used to working on video clips for television and not movies.

Silloray said there are some creative young Guadeloupeans who are doing their own short films but these are not produced.

"It is not that professional. But still, they have the desire. They want to create. So I hope that maybe in ten years we can have maybe five or ten short films per year in Guadeloupe. We still have to work on it."

He recalled 15 years ago a feature-length film was made in Guadeloupe, Nèg Maron, by Jean-Claude Barny, who is Guadeloupean but was raised and living in France and most of the technicians were French.

"It is very rare to have a long feature film in Guadeloupe. We need to have more."

He said he and a couple of other young filmmakers in Guadeloupe were also working on feature-length films.

"But it's so hard to raise money to make a long film. We hope that at least one of us will make it."

Julien Silloray Inter 23 11-20 Volume 90%


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