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To Be Believed

Cinematographer Yann Maritaud discusses his latest collaboration with director Charlène Favier, on the feature La fille qu'on appelle.

Director Charlène Favier’s feature La fille qu'on appelle focuses on Laura Le Corre (Alba Gaïa Bellugi), a young woman placed in a vulnerable position after her father entrusts her living arrangements to his employer, the town’s mayor, Quentin Le Bars (Pascal Greggory). Under Le Bars’ outsized political power, every direction Le Corre turns is fraught with danger, and it soon becomes her word against his.

Cinematographer Yann Maritaud reteamed with Favier for the feature, following their earlier collaborations on multiple shorts and the feature Slalom. Here, Maritaud expounds on the distinct value in working with Favier and the reasons they’ve been drawn to Panavision anamorphic optics.

Panavision: How did you become involved in the project?

Yann Maritaud: Charlène has been a longtime collaborator. After we had shot four short films and an experimental clip together, she offered me her first feature film, Slalom, which we shot in 2019. Continuing this exhilarating collaboration, she suggested La fille qu'on appelle, and I naturally responded.

How would you describe the look of the project?

Maritaud: Charlène's films are always about flirting between realism and the dreamlike. Coupled with the work of sound, it’s the work of color and textures to subtly de-realize the universe in which the characters evolve, reinforcing the story, supporting the emotions and getting closer to a sensory feeling.

Charlène works with a huge, evolving mood board throughout preproduction. Film stills, paintings, photos and even images of unknown provenance coexist. The result is an artistic direction that serves all visual positions and sometimes inspires the composition of a shot or lighting.

What brought you to Panavision for this project?

Maritaud: Panavision has been a long-standing partner for Charlène as well as for me. Paul-Jean Tavernier and Alexis Petkovsek had taken care of us on previous projects, and this time it was Fabrice Gomont at Panavision Marseille who was our contact. Personally, I always like to go to Panavision because I know that I will find what I am looking for in their wide choice of vintage optics!

What attracted you to the specific lenses you chose?

Maritaud: After shooting Slalom with the anamorphic B Series, the rendering of which we loved, our tests this time oriented us towards Primo anamorphics. We were already seduced by the look of anamorphic from our previous collaborations, and the beauty of the image produced by these optics convinced us immediately. It was a very instinctive choice, but I’d point to their anamorphic characteristics — bokeh, aberrations, etc. — without producing an overly ‘damaged’ image, as well as the softness of their rendering of skin. You don't even need to filter!

What inspired you to become a cinematographer, and what inspires you today?

Maritaud: Around 7 or 8 years old, I participated in a workshop at the children's film festival in my childhood village, and ever since then I dreamed of being behind the camera. Even though it took a good dozen more years for me to understand what the job of director of photography really was, I always pursued this goal, eventually taking my first steps on a set as an electrician to understand how to sculpt light. I didn't stay long in this position — I was driven by the desire to bring stories to life, and I launched into short films. My transition to features took place in 2014, when I had the chance to co-photograph Emmanuel Courcol’s Cessez-le-feu with Tom Stern [ASC, AFC].

What inspires me today are quality scripts carried by inspired directors. I like films that address causes or that carry messages in line with my own values. This was the case on La fille qu'on appelle.

Unit photography by François Lefebvre.

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