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Paru le La Lettre AFC n°150 Autres formats

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With Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, Louise Portal, Ménothy Cesar

The film is set in Haiti in the 1980s. Three mature ladies are on holiday in a hotel located on a magnificent beach not far from Port-au-Prince. A number of youths drift around this tropical Garden of Eden, ready to exchange their charm and tender loving for a few dollars. (...)

In L’Emploi du temps, Laurent’s previous film, we worked on the images, making them darker, we tended to under-expose and bring the main character out of the darkness using as few lighting effects as possible. I remember working on a session of video rushes where the only thing visible on the screen of the monitor was the reflection of our own faces peering into the darkness of the image. The shots had to be printed on 35 mm film to gauge the worth of our work.

On this film, we did exactly the opposite. We had to try and tame the dazzling brightness of the Caribbean sunshine, the strong contrasts it imposed and above all, we had to work with the very light skin of the actresses alongside the very dark skin of the Haitians. We shot tests on site and I opted for the new Vision 200T which gave a very soft contrast, bearing in mind that I could under-develop it for certain particularly stark scenes in terms of contrast. Once I saw the trials, I decided not to light the Haitians any more than the white actors. However, I did try a polarising lens on the dark skins and I found I could attain either a “chocolate” or a bluish hue, but this all became very complicated when we wanted to show a cloudy sky in the background.

Part of the film was to be shot in Haiti and Laurent wanted us to be as light and flexible as possible. At his request, we did a comparison between Super 16 film that was scanned and digitally graded and 35mm film. The choice was made in just a few seconds when these comparisons were screened. The 35mm gave us more room for manoeuvre, especially under virtually documentary conditions which was what we had in Port-au-Prince. In the end, we only filmed for one week in Haiti because political events prevented us from staying longer. The rest of the film was shot in the Dominican Republic. During shooting, the weather was appalling with lots of rain, cloudy skies and strong winds that nearly blew the décor away. The sunny image that we had imagined for the film turned into something more subtle. Finally, the grey skies and the white light lend a particular atmosphere to the film which is quite melancholic. The photographic process then became more interesting compared to the Caribbean, more unexpected.

The film was shot using a Moviecam Compact and an Aaton 35 with a Cooke S4 series lens.
Processed by Éclair Laboratories, graders Alain Guarda and Frédéric Casnin.


Film stock : Kodak Vision2 200T
Camera : Moviecam Compact and Aaton 35mm
Lenses : Cooke S4 Serie
Laboratories : Eclair Laboratoires, Paris
Graders : Alain Guarda and Frédéric Casnin