President of the jury of the Festival de la Fiction TV, which is currently being held in La Rochelle, Sandrine Bonnaire tells us about her relationship with television, her tastes in fiction, and her upcoming role in “Les Combattantes” on TF1.
After Guillaume de Tonquedec last year, it’s the turn of Sandrine Bonnaire to be the president of the jury for the 2022 edition of the TV Fiction Festival, which started yesterday in La Rochelle and which will continue until Sunday.
The actress, director, and screenwriter, seen recently at the cinema in See the day and The Eventspoke to us about her role as president, how she will judge the many fictions in competition, which include in particular Affected, The man of our lives, Vortex, The courtyardand 3615 Moniqueand its relationship to television.
Without forgetting to mention The Fightersthe new event mini-series of TF1 which will arrive on the air this Monday, September 19 and in which she embodies Eléonore Dewitt, a bourgeois confronted with the war and its consequences on her family business in 1914.
AlloCiné: What did you like about this proposal to be president of the jury for the 2022 edition of the TV Fiction Festival? Is this an offer you can’t refuse?
Sandrine Bonnaire : Indeed. We could refuse it when we see the number of fictions presented (laughs). No, it’s obviously a pleasure to see all these TV movies and all these series. I find it quite honorary to accept a presidency like that. It is a big festival, more and more important. And television is very important in our lives today.
Precisely, what place does television have in your life as a woman and as an actress? Did the small screen nurture your vocation?
I grew up with television, it was always on. I remember that there were quite a few cinema films that were shown on television. Although of course there were made-for-television shows. I was rocked by TV, because my parents watched it a lot, especially my father. But I haven’t watched it for years. Because it was too noisy, I preferred to put on some music. I also emancipated myself in a way, I didn’t want to do like my parents.
But today I am interested in it again. Since there are all kinds of channels and platforms have landed in the audiovisual landscape. The TV is not part of my daily life, but I sometimes turn it on to watch a documentary, a film, or a series. I can switch from one channel to another, although there are some channels that I don’t like very much.
The festival selection is very rich this year, with historical series, societal fiction, quirky comedies, fantasy dramas, or thrillers eyeing science fiction. Do you have any favorite genres?
Honestly, no. I am open to anything. As long as it tells something, that there is emotion. Whether it’s laughter or grief, I need to feel something when I watch fiction.
I love to laugh at the movies, I love to cry at the movies. I’m absolutely not afraid of sad stories, I love that (laughs). I love crying in front of a movie or a series. I think that’s the principle of watching a film: it gives us something. And the interest is also to learn things. Television, like cinema, must also educate.
How will you judge the works in competition?
I will judge them by their shape. Form is important to me. I will also judge the background, what it tells behind, is there any emotion. And at the same time, having done it many times for film festivals, I know that there are still often certain fictions that stand out and not others.
So I agreed that initially we will start with a first meeting to discuss and sort out. Deciding what not to keep, because there are a lot of fictions in competition this year. And if there are fictions on which we are hesitant, the idea is to keep them and discuss them. The debate is important within a jury. And as we go along we will see what is taking shape.
Over the past ten years, French television fiction has experienced a real leap in terms of quality and audacity. Do you feel it in the projects that are offered to you? Are you in high demand on the small screen?
Yes, I have been offered quite a few. I have done a lot of television work. I find that there are great things in unitary in France today. We obviously feel this leap in quality, there are real writing qualities in what we see on TV today and in the scripts we receive.
You participated in units (Stolen babies, Marion’s Law, That night and the days after) or an episode of Captain Marleau these last years. But we haven’t seen you on a show since Signature in 2011. What motivated your desire to say yes to the mini-series Les Combattantes, which begins on September 19 on TF1?
Captain Marleau, for me, it was mainly to meet Josee Dayan. The character fascinated me, I wanted to work with her. I love her so much. But I haven’t done a lot of series, it’s true.
Les Combattantes, I went there because I really liked the writing and the romantic side of this series. And I also like the fact that the show is about what the women did while the men were at war. It’s an interesting angle to talk about the First World War and women at that time, who are the great forgotten in history.
Are you fond of frescoes in costumes as a spectator?
No, it’s not really my thing, I admit (laughs). Although, I loved it The Crown, which is more recent but is still a costume saga. I think it’s a beautifully done series. But these are really the subjects that interest me. If it’s done well, I can watch everything.
Did you see The Charity Bazaar before signing for Les Combattantes?
No. And I still haven’t seen her.
You had heard of the work ofAlexander Lawrence as a director? They say he’s a very passionate person, can you confirm that?
Oh yes, I confirm (laughs). He is really funny. He is passionate, he trains his team, he is an extremely happy person. For example, he puts music on the set to train the troops. I admit it helps. I don’t need music to play, but when there is it, it inspires, it creates an emotion. And sometimes he can also put on a piece of rap as a joke (laughs). He is very lively. But beyond that, he’s a very good acting director. He knows what he is doing in terms of his plans, he has his series in mind, he is very precise.
You play as Eléonore Dewitt, a bourgeois camped on her principles. What did you like about this character?
What I liked was its loneliness. She’s an extremely dry woman, extremely tough, because she’s not happy herself. It is attached to its principles, its codes, its bourgeoisie. In the end, that’s all he has left. And she also her pride which holds her and which corners her.
But she is a woman who will gradually open up despite everything. She will have to do it anyway. What was interesting was to play this wickedness. The bond she has with her son is absolutely terrible. Even if it was the education of the time that wanted that too…
You mainly shoot with Sofia Essaidi, who plays your daughter-in-law on the show. How was the collaboration between you two?
I loved shooting with Sofia. We were very close on set. I really like the actress, the woman, I find her wonderful.
Like The Bazaar of Charity, Les Combattantes is a large-scale series, with titanic means. Was it impressive to be part of such a machine?
It was great to see all these sets, these costumes. But the team was so tight that I didn’t feel like I was on a big machine. Contrary to what I could live on Plague of Luis Puenzo, long time ago. It was a co-production with the Americans, it was a huge thing, and the atmosphere on set was not very friendly. I didn’t feel that at all. I was amazed by all these fabulous sets, I found it very pleasant to wear all these costumes.
Sofia Esaïdi confided that filming in a corset was sometimes complicated, so you didn’t feel that?
I had no problem with the corsets. The costume designer had made very flexible corsets for us. I felt very good in Eléonore Dewitt’s costumes.
You started in the world of series with A woman in white in 1997. What memories do you keep of this adventure?
A rather nice memory. It was a very interesting subject. We see that the problem has been going on for a long time because the series dates from the 90s. We followed a woman who was fighting to keep nearby hospitals in operation. We see that things haven’t changed much since then and that unfortunately all of this remains relevant. Maybe we should see A Woman in White again (laughs).
Do you have any upcoming projects for film or television?
At the cinema, I will soon shoot in a film by Caroline Glorion. And I have directing projects, including one for the small screen. This is a mini-series adapted from the book by Valérie Hervo The Underside of Candles. I will direct this series, I will act in it, and I will direct my eldest daughter for the first time, who will play me young.