On the occasion of the putting online of “Split” on france.tv slash, its creator Iris Brey returned for Allociné, on the importance of offering happy lesbian stories and on the difficulties she encountered so that her project sees the light of day.
Engine, and action! This Friday, November 24, the France Télévisions public is invited to discover the real-false behind the scenes of a filming like no other through Split.
In this French mini-series, Anna (Alma Jodorowsky), a young 30-year-old stuntwoman, falls in love on a film set with Eve (Jehnny Beth), the star of the film in which she is filming and which she is dubbing. . She, who thought she was happy in her relationship with Natan (Ralph Amoussou), and who had even been trying to have a child with him for several years, wonders. Will she have the courage to leave heterosexuality to fully experience this emerging and overwhelming desire for Eve, an open lesbian?
For Allociné, the creator of SplitIris Brey, also an academic, author and film critic, has agreed to return to the filming of her first series.
Allociné: In recent years, you have devoted several works to the representations of women and sexualities in series and films, such as Sex and the Series (2018), The female gaze, a revolution on screen (2020) or The culture of incest (2022).
What was it like going from theory to practice? What made you want to tell this love story?
Iris Brey : For me, this series is a bit of a continuation of a gesture. I didn’t think of it as a break with anything. I have the impression that having been a film critic and having previously taught cinema were all experiences that were very useful to me in directing, whether it was to cut a scene or to explain my intentions to my team.
And then, I had been trying to write fiction for quite some time. I don’t know why it finally happened with this series…
Where did this original idea of telling the daily life of a stuntwoman come from?
By rereading a file for a director, who devoted a documentary to stuntwomen. I then realized that it is a very male profession and that, in the majority of cases, they have to act out scenes of domestic violence or sexual violence because, in France, there are very few films where female characters have action scenes.
After that, I also saw a photo that Clotilde Hesme showed me of her and her stuntwoman, with whom she filmed for the series Lupine (Netflix). I found it super interesting that there could be, on set, a confusion generated by a bodily resemblance and a way of moving while in real life, the two women are extremely different.
Enrolling my main character in this profession which requires moving, being able to act, but also taking care – since a stuntwoman is there so that the actress does not get hurt – it made sense. I found it beautiful to be able to create eroticism and desire from treatment.
All along Splityou play a lot with the split screenan effect common in films but quite rare in series, and which consists of dividing the screen into several parts to show several images simultaneously.
Why this artistic choice? How did this particularly serve the feminist purpose and queer what do you defend in your series?
Often, the split screen is used to create suspense. So I almost took the opposite approach since in my series, there is actually quite little suspense. In fact, I said to myself that it would be very interesting to think about the split screen as a way to be able to feel what a character is going through, but also to create links between characters who don’t necessarily evolve together all the time.
Originally, what interested me was to start from this cinematographic process and re-appropriate it to tell a story of division, but above all of reparation. I thought we hadn’t seen much of this black line being used as a scar line, which can also glue several things together.
In one of the episodes, you share an audio archive of the actress Delphine Seyrigwho says : “Cinema is not an industry that follows the evolution of women of my time. It cannot move things forward much. It is up to things to move forward and then, cinema will move forward.”
In your opinion, this is also valid for television and broadcast platforms. streaming Today ? Was this series project difficult to sell?
Yes of course. The people who make decisions and give money are rarely our age or younger than us. We have to justify ourselves a lot to make them understand that our stories are important and why we want to tell them in this or that way.
On the other hand, I was lucky because france.tv slash is a kind of laboratory that allows new voices and new themes to emerge. I felt that with them, I could experience lots of things. I couldn’t have done Split on any other channel. So above all, it was necessary to find a balance between having creative freedom and having very little money to bring the images that I had in mind to life.
You were also constrained by regulations regarding audiovisual productions…
Yes. In fact, there is an ethics service which must classify each work to be able to guide spectators. I understand its usefulness very well. Simply, on france.tv slash, if a work is categorized as “prohibited to children under 16”, it can only appear on the platform between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. On platforms such as Netflix, on the other hand, a small “-16” logo is affixed and the work can remain. Naturally, I want to address as many people as possible. It was important to me that this series be visible outside of night hours, otherwise it would, once again, put us in a closet.
I therefore shortened the duration of the sex scenes in episodes 2 and 3, and in particular the orgasms, so that the series could be categorized as “prohibited for children under 12” and thus remain accessible. On the other hand, for episode 4, I did not succeed because of the scene with squirt [liquide éjaculé par les femmes à l’approche ou au moment de l’orgasme]. However, it is a fairly light scene where we see very little. I find it great to have this kind of representation in feminist series and not only on pornographic sites.
Why, even today, “every lesbian kiss is a revolution”to paraphrase, among others, Alice Coffin in The lesbian genius ?
Because it destabilizes the patriarchy. Showing lesbian joy is political. We have been so fed up with lesbian stories based on impossible loves or which tell us that it is very hard and sad to be lesbian that I absolutely wanted to take the opposite view of these stories which always end badly.
Even just to show the joy of being together among women, to show women who think, organize, emancipate themselves together, like the splicers, it’s political. It is the best weapon to reveal inequalities and fight oppression.
A documentary, called Sex is comedy: the revolution of intimacy coordinatorsand which follows intimacy coordinator Paloma Garcia Martens on the set of Splitwill be released at the same time as your series on france.tv slash.
In what way is intimacy coordinator a new profession that would benefit from being better known and systematized on film sets?
I spoke with a lot of actresses and they all told me about problems they had on set, particularly during intimate scenes. I know that in France, there is great resistance to this subject because we have the impression that it is censorship and that someone is going to come between the director and his actresses.
Personally, I see my work as a director as a collective work, that is to say that I have a vision and that I share it with people who help me to realize it. For example, for stunts, I naturally turned to a specific advisor so that there was no endangering of the stuntwoman’s body. It seems normal to me.
The intimate scenes place the actresses in extreme vulnerability because the border becomes very porous between reality and fiction during these scenes. I don’t believe in magic or naturalness in sex scenes at all. Naturalness can be worked on. I don’t want my actresses to have to give of themselves for the sex scenes, I want it to be their character, and for that, there has to be a framework and a choreography that the actresses can rehearse for. embody them. My sex scenes are not there to decorate, they are there to tell the evolution of a character, whether it is the discovery of something, the fear, or the fact of seeing him let go.
And then, I have the impression that it is rather a very great proof of trust and love to tell the actresses that I asked someone to be there to take care of them and that ‘They can talk to him if there are things they don’t want to tell me.
At the end of the documentary, you say you are working on a film. Can you tell us more?
Yes ! I’m writing a feature film about a love story between two women set in Athens. I want to update the Before film trilogy by Richard Linklater, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. These are stories of impossible romantic wanderings between two characters, first in Vienna, then in Paris. I was fed that. I thought it would be interesting to ask what it’s like to fall in love at 40 rather than 25.
So the series and film reviews are definitely behind you? Or, after the series, do you simply want to try your hand at another medium, in this case the feature film?
I do not know. I feel like I’ve reached the end of a cycle with my attempts. Right now, I prefer to write fiction. I don’t know yet what new cycle I will open. We’ll see… !
Comments collected in Paris on November 15, 2023.