Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Road to Sundance 2014: My Sense of Modesty (short), directed by Sebastien Bailly

Sebastien Bailly

What made you decide to become a filmmaker?
To be a director is an old desire. When I was a child, I wrote a lot of stories in my bedroom, because I was a unique son. I discovered cinema when I was a teenager. First, I discovered the American movies I could watch on television and, after, the French and European cinema in an art theater which was in my little city in the South West of France. At college, I was in an art classroom which specialized in cinema. I shot my first own little movies there and discovered cinema history.

Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
"My Sense of Modesty" is a short fiction film which was selected in the Sundance competition (Short Program 1). I was inspired by all the young Arabic women I saw in the streets or in the subway in Paris. A lot of them have a Hijab in their hair. The Hijab is a debate question in France, but the media presents it as a strong religious symbol. I spoke with a lot of Arabic women and I discovered it is not only a religious symbol but also a cultural habit. A lot of these women receive a Hijab at twelve years old but they are not really believers. Then when they grow up, the question to remove it is often a really difficult, and important, choice. With this movie I would like to open up minds and let people see the Hijab differently.

Still from My Sense of Modesty
What do you love about your film?
In my previous movies, I loved to show the portraits of women. It´s the same here. I like to show women with a sweet eye, with a comprehensive approach. And it was a pleasure to work with Hafsia Herzi, who is a famous actress in France (Cesar Award Winning). She was very generous and attentive. She was completely involved in the project - and now she loves the movie, which is important for me also.

How long did it take you to make your film?
Writing the script was really easy and very quick. It’s the process of searching for money which takes the longest.

How did you finance your film?
The movie has traditional financing for a French short. The French public TV gave us money after reading the script, before we even began shooting. We also received financial support from the City of Paris, and from the CNC (National Film Center).

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
The most important for me in this movie was how I can speak about this subject with a smooth approach. I'm not for or against the Hijab; I just want to tell a story, to show another reality than the one the French media shows. This movie had to be very touchy and direct.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance.
I was really surprised by the selection, it was like a dream! It´s so important for a French director to be here! I'm really happy about the positive feedback on the movie. I have had a lot of interesting meetings and encounters at Sundance. It´s a wonderful experience. And I must confess it’s my first time in America. It was a wish for me: go to America and present a movie. Done!

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
That´s not a question for me actually. I enjoyed when the film was selected for festivals and I'm interested by the feedback, but I don't want to go back or change anything. I'm thinking about my future projects, that´s the most important now.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
At the same time of Sundance, the film is in Sofia Festival (Bulgaria) and in a French film festival. I hope there, some people from all over the world will have a chance to see it.  A company is working on the world sales for TV and we have a project for a release in France with 3 of my short films.
If someone wants to watch my film, they can contact me directly by email, and I will send them a link: I will be happy to receive feedback, and discuss it with people.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made?
Just believe in yourself and your projects. Listen to what other people say about your script, but stick to your own desire; don't forget the first desire of your project.

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