On the occasion of the release of “Rodeo” by Lola Quivoron, here are five things to know about this controversial film centered on urban rodeos.
What is it about ? Julia lives off small tricks and devotes an all-consuming, almost animal passion to motorcycling. One summer day, she meets a gang of cross-bitumen bikers and infiltrates this clandestine environment, made up mostly of young men. Before an accident weakens his position within the gang…
Birth of the project
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Lola Quivoron knows the rodeo world well. When she was a child, she lived in Epinay-sur-Seine (93) and saw young people on motocross passing below her building. She also met the protagonists of her short film Au Loin Baltimore (2015) while she was at La Femis:
“I had come across videos on social media of young people cross-roading and calling themselves Dirty Riderz Crew. I contacted the leader of the group, Pack, who invited me to hang out on their training line, in the 77”, remembers the filmmaker, continuing:
“I was really gripped. It was a physical meeting. The engines are very strong, the practice quite brutal, it’s very impressive. They intersect on lines which are fairly narrow two-way roads. I went back about 50 times and made friends with them.”
The revelation Julie Ledru
Filmmaker Lola Quivoron took a long time to find Julia’s interpreter. It was thanks to Instagram that she came across the “Inconnue_du_95” account of a certain Julie Ledru. She remembers: “And she rides a bike. We meet in Beaumont-Sur-Oise, in the suburbs of Paris.”
“I knew this city that I had passed through during the first commemorations for the death of Adama Traoré. I thought it was a sign. She arrives with her old Honda jacket and she tells me her whole story. I talks about this female character that she seems to understand in a very obvious way.”
“Coming home from the date, I call Antonia and I tell her “it’s too weird this girl is a big mytho. She told me her life, it’s the story of the film. “I don’t know not how to say it but it was like a miracle, as if two ends met. The real and the fiction.
Lola Quivoron had several cinematic references in mind when she wrote Rodeo. Among them, The Fury of Living and Of sound and fury. The filmmaker remembers: “Of noise and fury is a very great film. I like its brutality, its immense poetry, its dreamlike force. I have the impression of understanding the violence of each character.”
“The character of Julia is very inspired by the paranoid figures of the cinema. I am fascinated by the ungrateful, drugged characters, prey to sometimes self-destructive existential crises.”
Director Lola Quivoron shot Rodeo with an Arri Alexa Mini camera, in a cinemascope format (2:39), with anamorphic Master Prime lenses, as in classic westerns: “It gives a spectacular force to the documentary look that I also wanted to be preserved. I wanted to convey the physical sensation of bodies carried away by the speed and adrenaline of bike-life”, she explains.
Cannes and controversy
Rodeo was featured in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where some of Lola Quivoron’s remarks sparked controversy during an interview for Konbini. In the latter, the director said: “Accidents, they are often caused by the cops, who chase, who push the riders towards death, in fact, concretely.”
These statements generated strong reactions on social networks: from certain politicians, such as the mayor of Cannes David Lisnard, but also from Internet users (including a good number of residents confronted with the passage of cross-bitumen enthusiasts in their neighborhood ).
A few days before the theatrical release of the feature film, Lola Quivoron however explained: “My words were caricatured, overinterpreted, extrapolated over articles and TV sets by journalists, who themselves had not seen my film. In Konbini’s interview, journalists ask me about cross-bitumen by erasing their questions.”
“My phrase, accidents are often caused by cops chasing riders and pushing them to death, voluntarily set up as a slogan, has been completely chopped up, sliced up and recomposed. This type of editing transforms the meaning and produces a discourse in tense flow, without real deployment of arguments, making my speech superficial, brutal, and aggressive.”