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When Beckett meets Tank Girl… as Federer turns into Mad Max.
Bombs have exploded. The war is global.
Yet André and Stéphanie won’t give up: Roland Garros -the French Open- is their life, the reason why they live –their history. And come what may, they will organize their Open, whatever the cost. Even without rackets, even without balls, by the sheer strength of their faith. They believe in it. So hard they could even convince Ralph –a guerrilla from the plain– to join them, lay down his weapons, take his racket once more and try his luck in the final.
Three misfits, playing air tennis in the middle of nowhere, strive to dream –even though life is turning into a farce, even though the world is coming to an end.
The Open. Two men and a woman, fighting against the end of the world –the end of their world–, against the death of humanity, by throwing imaginary tennis balls.
This postulate may seem strange, as it borrows as well from Mad Max as it does from Beckett; yet it actually opens the film to many aesthetic approaches and forms –The Open owing for instance a debt to Antonioni (the final sequence of Blow-Up is actually “re-played”), as well as to my fascination for tennis, a “westernian” sport with an obvious, sadly under-exploited cinematic potential.
The Open thus combines sports, post apocalyptic SF, French intimist drama, pantomime, obvious references to the theatre of the absurd and, to a certain extent, comedy. The Road revised by Tank Girl –a road on which the new Federers and Sharapovas strive to survive...
All those apparently disparate elements are justified and bound together by a perfectly straight narrative framework directing the fates of my three characters –André, Stéphanie and Ralph: beyond its punk aesthetics, The Open claims to be a humanist fable; the allegory of an eternal, fundamentally human hope.
Indeed, I do truly, deeply believe in the main theme developed in this film –in this fable–, and I remain absolutely, intimately convinced that each one of us can only keep going thanks to, and for, the stories we tell ourselves (and often tell one another) at all times. To quote Valéry, we would be nonentities “but for the help of what doesn’t exist”.
Roland Garros thus becomes the place of dreams and fantasy; the necessary, the absolutely essential source of life for my three beautiful misfits.
Our project defied the norms, and so did its shooting. The Open, an ambitious feature endowed with a microscopic budget, was shot last year in the heart of the Scottish Highlands (and Islands) –more specifically in the Hebrides–, from mid-June to the beginning of July.
An amazing, die-hard crew of nine (!) actors and technicians fought the cold, the rain, the wind (even a storm, as it happened), the fog, mud, sand and other midges, for three weeks: James, Maia, Pierre (actors), Marc (director and cinematographer), Romain (sound engineer), Jean-Fred (assistant director), Claire (who did so many jobs all by herself that it’s actually hard to keep track of them all), Sarah (idem, although she did originally come to us as a makeup and SFX artist) and Ben (associate producer, driver and caterer, whom Cyril -the executive producer- replaced during the last week).
The small team soldiered through hellish conditions, rushing from sequence to sequence to finally complete the shooting… Gilliam had his Lost in La Mancha, we had our own Lost in the Hebrides. The major difference between us? We did bring a movie back home.
Many more stories and details on this adventurous shooting are to be found on the movie’s blog: http://blogtheopen.wordpress.com/
Enjoy your reading, all you movie fans, tennismen (and women), geeks, pipers and enquiring minds!
Marc Lahore grew up between a mountain of VHS and a heap of comics –and thus got quickly interested in aesthetic matters. He became a voluntary projectionist, then a TV editor, pursuing at the same time a university course in English language and culture. A lover of Anglo Saxon literature –particularly Chaucer and Shakespeare–, hardly had he passed his CAPES than he gave up teaching in the Éducation Nationale to work full-time on his movies.
Marc directed a series of quite different, often strange films, deliberately choosing disconcerting forms, as he likes to explore, or re-discover, varied worlds and concepts. Between 2005 and 2013, he directed, for better and for worse, a short thriller about homelessness (Pirates –winner of the Défi Jeunes), a historical mini-series (Lune Rousse, for Melting Productions), a parable on boxing (KAMI, also for Melting Productions), a series of –very– short experimental films (L’Agenda, self produced), as well as a horrific, impish and subversive comedy (DO, for Broken). Marc recently won the CNC’s “Aide à la ré-écriture” (a State grant for the development of feature films), and is today putting the finishing touches to Joe Louis’ Left Hand, a rural Pyrenean drama, alongside Nicolas Peufaillit and Hélène Tolède-Couronne.
The Open, which he wrote, produced (alongside Cyril Cadars), shot, directed and edited (with Benjamin Minet's help), is his first feature film.
Hardly had James Northcote graduated from Cambridge –with a Bachelor of Arts– than he tried his luck on the stage, then moved on to the screen. Though he is only 27, he already appeared in such movies as Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2011), Anna Karenina (Joe Wright, 2012), Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013) and, quite recently, The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014) or Stefan Ruzowitzky's Patient Zero (2016).
Maia Levasseur-Costil has played in most of Marc Lahore’s movies –playing in particular the eponymous heroin of KAMI, a role for which she gained more than ten pounds of muscles, as she became a true fighter under former kick-boxing champion Aurélien Duarte’s supervision.
Fred Cavayé’s favorite bad guy, Pierre Benoist gets meaner and meaner as his filmography grows (Pour elle, À bout portant, Mea Culpa…). Actually as easy-going as he seems tough, and as happy staging Molière as he is killing extras with his bare hands, he played the role of a brutal, homicidal clown in Marc Lahore’s DO (2014).
Not only is dDamage an internationally-acclaimed electro duo, but it is also one of France’s most influential underground music act.
Jean-Baptiste (who is currently working with Agnès B as dDash) and Frédéric Hanak’s quite experimental music has evolved along the years, mixing genres as well as aesthetic perspectives –borrowing from hip hop, punk, rock, techno music or chiptune. The two brothers have been working alongside French rappers (La Caution, James Delleck, TTC) as well as American ones (Bigg Jus from Company Flow, Mike Ladd, Young Jeezy), techno performers such as Bomb The Bass or Mondkopf, and many underground rockers, among whom The John Spencer Blues Explosion and Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto... Very famous in Japan, the Hanak brothers go on exporting their music worldwide.
“Nothing can stop the two brothers […]; they are the living proof that the French electro scene can do well on its own, away from the usual, commonplace tracks.”
"Created in the XXIst century, Village 42 is a production society striving to offer enquiring, unorthodox points of view on our societies, and attempting to depict people’s lives, as they face modernity, on varied supports and formats."
Founder Cyril Cadars’ first short movie, Alice au pays s’émerveille, directed by Marie-Eve Signeyrole and starring Emir Kusturica, was entirely financed via the internet. The Open is V42’s first feature film.
Different friends, partners and coproducers joined us on our return from Scotland:
Rubykub, conceived as a proper “one-stop structure (Agency, Film, Music & Web)” -a multimedia production company based in Brussels; Bruit Blanc, a French independent music publishing agency; Ring Ring Ring, an all-in-one audiovisual studio founded by Leigh Hatwell (according to whom "it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters"); and StudIO*.KgB, a Parisian cinema & TV sound postproduction society.
They all united their efforts to make The Open reach the final -merci à tous !
[Spring 2016:] The Open has started his tour of worlwide festivals; selected to this year's editions of the BIFFF, the BiFan, SciFi London or the Newport Beach Film Festival, among others, the movie won three prizes in Fantasporto 2016's Directors' Week: Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Film; as well as two prizes in Tours: le Prix spécial de la Critique and le Prix spécial Mauvais Genre for Outstanding Achievement.
Should you wish to help us -we're talking festival submission fees or public communication here...-, you can check out the following page.
[Spring 2016:] No current actions...
...however, et si le cœur vous en dit, do not hesitate in sharing the movie's FB, blog or site, or in conctacting us, should you have any questions or new ideas!
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Editorial Manager: Cyril Cadars
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