One of France’s most acclaimed actors-filmmakers, Melania Laurent, is bringing the banner of 2021, the title of Alexander Azar’s hit Netflix movie “Oxygen” to Spike Lee’s Cannes Jury, and the world his sixth directing effort, “The Mad Women’s Ball” in Toronto. The movie of the period is the origin of Amazon’s first French movie.
Laurent (“Inglius Bastards,” “Beginners”) was shooting the film when his long-running Sony project with Eli Fanning and Dakota Fanning saw “The Nightingale” shut down due to epidemics.
Based on Victoria Mass’s award-winning novel “Le Ball des Foles”, “The Mad Women’s Ball” was held in Paris in the late 19th century, at a time when women who were too rebellious or tough were often branded as insane. Institutional. The procedure was performed at Salpatria Hospital where such women were diagnosed with a variety of neurological disorders, they were confined and under the care of neurologists such as Jean-Martin Charcot. Every year, a prestigious ball was held with the patients and attracted the elite of Paris; It was a place to visit and see.
Lou de Layez, played in Laurent’s Sophomore Outing “Breath”, plays Eugenie, a young, bright and passionate woman who discovers at an early age that she has a special ability to hear the dead. After her family discovers her secret, she is taken to the hospital, where she is tied up with a nurse, Genevieve (Laurent). As they prepare for the Charcot ball, their face will change both their futures. Allen Goldman and Axel Boca ï Legend Films (“La VN Rose”) produced the film.
Laurent says that although the idea for adapting Mas’s novel came from his producer (Goldman), he had a desire to “direct a period film about witches in the Middle Ages, a film that could be described as ‘eco-feminist’.”
“Throughout history, women who have tried to improve society have often been denied access and have not had the same access to knowledge as men, so they have found other ways to learn things on their own. Women could have made more discoveries in science, they could have done a lot, but they were silent, ”Laurent said, adding that she was compelled by the appeal of the movie and the complexity of the month book.
“After reading“ Le Bal des Falls, ”I was horrified because I realized that at different times women had been oppressed, either in the priesthood, or in the field of medicine, or in our male-dominated society,” Laurent said.
“The world is changing fast today, and it’s not going in the right direction: we’ve left women behind in Afghanistan where they’re at risk of being raped every four seconds, and there are still women all over the world who are being beaten,” the director said.
Although the film is set in the nineteenth century, Laurent says it is “very modern to talk about women who are said to be silent and insane.” “I am under the impression that women have more power today and are called more insane or hysterical,” she said.
The recent wave of feminism has led to animosity towards outspoken women, Laurent said, who admits she often calls herself crazy for accepting too much.
“I’ve often been told I’ve been crazy for a long time, because I try to do a lot of things. It’s just the idea of trying to get out of my actress’s little box and get other things done. It is true that a woman who dares to take part in many projects always raises doubts, but we are capable of many things! Laurent said he added that he had never seen a male filmmaker bring his kids to the set for more than five minutes where their female colleagues could do it and quarrel.
She said her baby girl was on the set of “The Mad Women’s Ball” every day, which made her feel “perfect” and gave her the “mental strength” she needed to shoot.
Laurent praised De Layez for his loneliness and his performance in “a role made for him”. “She is an actor with such great potential and she often acts as a director, often as a man, as a beautiful woman, but she can do much more. She has to deal with a star with a mind blowing beauty and she has this weakness in her eyes and a weakness while having this big voice; So we can’t put her in a box, “said Laurent.
“The Mad Women’s Ball” is the first film that Laurent directed for a streaming service. Goomante was involved after Amazon Prime Video climbed into the project. The French studio was initially ready to co-produce and distribute the film in France, but the project needed a deep-pocket partner to get hit by the epidemic and get greenlit.
“We were ready to make this movie in theaters and with Gaumant and TV channels, but then the second wave started and it got complicated and it was very stressful for the financiers; We started to feel that the release would be a mess and we feared that we would not find a good slot to release the film in theaters, ”Laurent said.
Helmer says Amazon Prime Video and its head, Thomas Dubois, have given him complete creative freedom.[Dubois] Never came on set or in the editing room; He told me to be as radical as I wanted to be, so I felt more free than any other film, ”Laurent said.
“I would be unhappy to see the movie come to theaters and move away from the screen after a week or two; Where as with Amazon, it is launching in 240 countries on the same day and at the same time, ”Laurent said. “I think in this matter, in this picture, that’s what I wanted.”