“Being a director and evolving in the shadows, right next to the light, gives me exactly the notoriety that I need.
More would be difficult to live with, but less would perhaps taint my pride a little, ”she summarizes.
A special place, in short, that Jeanne Herry, 44, daughter of Julien Clerc and Miou-Miou, had to find.
A place that she has now won, in three films, that of a subtle author who shines in popular social cinema.
Four years after the release of the highly acclaimed
(2018), which recounted the journey of babies born under X, the filmmaker focused this time on restorative justice to build the script for I will
always see your faces
Focused on associations that organize meetings between victims and offenders, this story was born in her mind after listening to a podcast – she loves it.
Read alsoJeanne Herry: ""Ten percent" allowed me to build muscle"
The power of the collective
Intrigued by this practice created in 2014 and little known in France, the director documented herself at length until she took training herself: “This dialogue between victims and aggressors fascinated me.
Face-to-face, people can share their feelings, speak and be heard.
Everyone moves, repairs and repairs in this powerful dynamic of the collective.
I immediately saw in it an interesting framework for writing a film.
I had to assimilate all the protocols of these talking circles – constraints that I see as the rules of the game – to then imagine characters, issues and strong scenes to play and film.
When I observe the confrontations on the networks, it comes to me to think that there is something to repair collectively
Thanks to this status as a facilitator, Jeanne Herry was able to observe the process of these meetings from the inside before imagining a film on reparation, but also on the benefits of dialogue, contrary to a cacophonous era that values controversy and dissension in the form of violence, which are the honey of social networks – from which Herry is absent, her vintage laptop proves it: “I believe that to solve complexity, you may have to respond with complexity.
When I observe the harshness of the confrontations on social networks, it comes to me to think that there is something to be repaired collectively.
Restorative justice offers real tools, provided there is a real political will to put them in place.”
A committed cinema
Even if her humility prevents her from recognizing it, Jeanne Herry has made a name for herself in committed cinema.
“Any word – or gesture – made in the public space has a political dimension, but I find it difficult to see myself as an activist, because others are much more politicized than me.
Moreover, I am not of a rebellious nature.
I regret it sometimes, because I find it beautiful, but considering myself a privileged person, there is no anger in me.
This is no doubt why Jeanne Herry chose to make films that are both challenging and focused on light.
“I would be very bad at exposing dysfunctional states.
Rather, I seek to tell what works and show what happens when we work well together.”
I find it hard to see myself as an activist
An choral film
A taste of the collective that she likes to find on the sets and which inspires her from the writing of her scenarios to imagine her galleries of characters.
This taste for the choral film saves him the frustration of having to choose only one or two headliners.
And this child of the seraglio, rocked by the films of François Truffaut, Claude Sautet, Yves Robert or, later, Cédric Klapisch (“Directors all crazy about actors”) wishes to entrust her stories to dissimilar actors.
My mother is an emotional actress who I also love to see perform as a spectator
"I'm a little 'cross-border'.
The balance between the actors – from the theater or the cinema, known or less known – is important to me in the composition of my castings: each brings its uniqueness to the other.
For this film, Jeanne Herry therefore took pleasure in directing, for the first time, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Denis Podalydès, Suliane Brahim, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Dali Benssalah and Fred Testot, but also in offering new scores to actors who she knows well like Gilles Lellouche, Élodie Bouchez and her mother, Miou-Miou.
“My mother had shot in my first short film and played a small score in
So I had great pleasure in finding her in a denser character, where her acting could unfold.
She's an emotional actress who I also love to see play as a spectator."
A family of artists
Mother and daughter are very close in life.
Jeanne and her big sister Angèle (daughter of Miou-Miou and Patrick Dewaere, adopted by Julien Clerc) grew up between their father and their mother, after their separation in 1981. The famous parents insisted that the daily life of their daughters is not disconnected from reality, but it happened to Jeanne to follow her father on tour and to spend time on film sets.
Watching others play made her want to be an actress: "Growing up in a family of artists opened up the field of possibilities."
I inherited from my mother some founding values such as listening, a form of moral righteousness, but also a foolproof humor
After spending a year at a theater school in London, she was admitted to the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art, then lived a career in reverse, starting with roles to finish as an extra.
“I was more often unemployed than active,” she smiles.
Over the years, acting has therefore seemed less exciting to him than writing.
She therefore embarked on writing the screenplay for
her first film, which she refined for nine years – the time to have two children.
Sandrine Kiberlain played the unconditional fan of a successful singer, interpreted by Laurent Lafitte and freely inspired by Julien Clerc.
From this famous father figure, Jeanne Herry inherited her taste for music (she did some drums and loves to sing) and above all a real sensitivity for voices.
"For the casting of
I will always see your faces,
I paid particular attention to the timbres of each, in order to create chords that make up the music of the film."
From her mother, she inherited "some founding values such as listening, a form of moral righteousness, but also foolproof humor".
"A Thousand Ways to Make Films"
Without denying her ancestry, Jeanne Herry does not wish to be reduced to her filiation alone, but recognizes that her status as the daughter of artists helped her in her beginnings as a "self-taught director": "I did not even make film school.
Fortunately, over the years, I take a little bottle, and that gives me self-confidence.
I set up my own rules and set my methodology, because there really are a thousand ways to write screenplays and make films.
It is a space of freedom in which I begin to find my way.
In three films, I have the impression of having gained in confidence, I dare more and I feel more legitimate to say things, including to the actors.
Élodie Bouchez, who has filmed twice for her, confirms this: “On a set, Jeanne never lets go and every word, every breath, every comma is important.
She doesn't give up until she gets what she wants."
Being a woman in a man's world was not an obstacle, assures Jeanne Herry.
“Unlike my elders who had to fight, I benefit from the status of female director: a change of gear took place and everyone started asking female directors to take on “delicate” subjects or even “ a bit masculine”.
Obviously, I'd rather be chosen because I'm amazing, but if it gives me – and women in general – more opportunities, then so much the better!
Jeanne Herry is a multi-talent.
She directed a series (
with Camille Cottin, the French remake of
by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), directed two episodes of
Dix pour cent
(2015), a play at the Comédie-Française and wrote a book (
The pressure is stronger today, because his previous film,
was a success with more than 900,000 admissions.
The “cinema of the middle”
The following ?
I will always see your faces
, I would like to see Jeanne in comedy with a societal background à la Bacri-Jaoui or à la Nakache-Toledano”, confides her producer, Hugo Sélignac, who has followed her since her debut.
He adds: “It's a chance to have a Jeanne Herry in your life!
This woman is intelligent, sensitive, caring, humorous, and never judgmental.
She changed the man and the producer that I am.
I have produced around twenty films since my debut, some of which were big hits, such as
Le Grand Bain
, Bac Nord
touched people's hearts.
This film is an emotional marker.
Besides, all the actors want to work with her.
And even if its “cinema of the medium” is the most difficult to mount – neither huge comedies, nor action films, nor small auteur films –, the financiers are ready to follow it.
Jeanne Herry has changed the man and the producer that I am
This "in-between" cinema gives the director the impression of reclaiming a place that her parents occupied somewhat: "They were very famous with a dazzling career far superior to mine, popular too, but they evolved when even in a very artistic place,” she says.
Family succession is assured.
If Julien Clerc sang
Make me a place
, Jeanne Herry has found hers.
A place apart.
I will always see your faces,
by Jeanne Herry, with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Leïla Bekhti, Élodie Bouchez, Miou-Miou, Gilles Lellouche, Jean-Pierre Darroussin… Released March 29.