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Emmanuelle Antille, Avanti

Swiss installation artist talks about her debut theatrical feature which world premiered in competition at Zurich.

Installation artist Emmanuelle Antille describes her first theatrical feature, Zurich competition entry Avanti, as “a road-trip love story between a mother and a daughter who are learning to accept each other.”

Acclaimed veteran actress Hanna Schygulla stars as the mentally ill and misunderstood mother, alongside newcomer Nina Meurisse, Miou Miou and Jean-Pierre Gos.

The French-language Swiss-Belgian co-production had its world premiere at the festival and screens again on Sunday 30 at the Arthouse Le Paris.

How did Avanti came together?

I am a video artist, primarily. In my art-work I’m interested in exploring the bonds between people within a community or a family, so, I was interested to make a longer format film which explores that subject.

I started working on the script five years ago and we shot last spring in Switzerland.

We did the post in Belgium. Because Avanti combines several shooting formats - including super 8, archive and video - that took around six months.

The film is a Swiss-Belgian co-production, between Box Productions and Versus Production. It was classically financed, through a combination of local Swiss government funding, TV and regional funds.

You have a nice blend of experience and youth and in the cast. How did that come about?

I had wanted to cast Hanna from the beginning. I needed a very special actress to play the mother. The character is in her own world but at the same time I wanted someone who could portray mental illness in a subtle, non-caricatured, and diverse way.

I was touched and blessed that Hanna wanted to do it. From there we built the family around her.

I’ve previously worked with non-actors so I wanted to maintain some of that. We did a scene in a bikers’ bar, for example, in which we cast real-life bikers.

What was the biggest challenge?

This was the first time I have directed professional actors so it was a challenge to find the right words for each one to express my ideas. It’s about developing a different language with each one. This was also the first time I’ve worked on this scale.

What’s next?

I’ve just finished shooting a large video installation for a Swiss museum. That should be ready for next year.

I’m also thinking about the next feature. I’m writing some ideas but nothing concrete yet. Now that I have the filmmaking bug I suppose I’ll be contaminated forever.

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