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GIFFONI EXPERIENCE 2015 - 17.26 July

Sections & Films


Category: Edition 2015

Lenny is a wild and solitary nineteen-year-old from the projects north of Marseille. She expresses the difficulties of daily life through rap, which is also her way of escaping from it. One evening, when she’s sneaked off to rehearse on an abandoned building site, Lenny runs into Max, a young Congolese woman without immigration papers, who is blown away by her voice and the power of her lyrics. From that point on, the two girls form a special bond.

Original Title MAX & LENNY
Category Official Competition
Section Generator +16
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 85'
Production Year 2014
Nationality France
Directed by Fred Nicolas
Screenplay Fred Nicolas, François Bégaudeau
Director of photography Sébastien Buchmann
Editor Mike Fromentin, Gilda Fine
Production Design Olivia Tournadre, Mourad Saïdi
Costume Design Janina Ryba
Sound Jean-Michel Tresallet, Pierre Bariaud, Samuel Aïchoun
Music Simon Neel, Camélia Pand’Or
Main cast Camélia Pand’Or (Lenny)
Jisca Kalvanda (Max)
Adam Hegazy (Saïd)
Alvie Bitemo Mamounga (Rita)
Norbert Godji (Norbert)
Martial Bezot (educator)
Produced by Élisabeth Perez

Fred Nicolas has worked as assistant director for numerous directors, including James Ivory (JEFFERSON IN PARIS, 1995), Sandrine Veysset (WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS?, 1996), Manuel Pradal (MARIE FROM THE BAY OF ANGELS, 1997), Erick Zonca (IL PICCOLO LADRO, 1999), Arnaud Desplechin (A CHRISTMAS TALE, 2008), Robert Guédiguian, Marina de Van, Pierre Salvadori. He directed the short film VIVRE (2000), and two documentaries, including ROUGE BANDIT (2009). MAX & LENNY is his first feature film as a director.

Director’s statement

The experience of my first film gave me the opportunity to frequent the working class neighbourhoods on the edge of Marseille and to witness slices of individual lives there. In these districts to the north, there’s nothing pretty or picturesque. People live totally precarious lives. There’s just the sun and the view of the sea from the heights of Saint-Antoine to provide an occasional distraction for the residents from their hardships. The challenge was to transcend this social realism to make a film that is more poetic and optimistic – to show the violent world of the projects, but also that of the sun-drenched creeks and the residential neighbourhoods.

Casting was one of the film’s main challenges. We moved heaven and earth to find the right teenage actresses and to make them a part of these neighbourhoods. I wanted teenage girls who had something of the characters within them, so they could draw on their own experiences to bring feeling and emotion to the text.

“Left to their own devices, Max and Lenny are two 19-year-old women who are facing hardships that are too heavy for their young shoulders. They have no concept of what an easy life would be, since theirs involve a daily combat with no clear future. Max and Lenny are both highly sensitive, yet harsh, like their social destiny. They are a mix of the fragility of adolescence and the invincibility that has its roots in what is left of their childhood. In the projects, these girls have little chance of becoming contemplative: they have to act to get by. And in this environment, adolescence is not only the age of possibilities, but also the age when one becomes aware of the dead­ends, when one feels injustices more cruelly, and when the spirit of adventure is continually coming up against the obstacles of daily life. Through Max and Lenny, I recount the point of view of a youth that is at once tough and streetwise, with a vision and awareness of the times.

“Lenny’s real pleasure in life, and her refuge, is music, and especially rap. She has a special connection with music, like it’s something sacred. Lenny has that amazing capacity to transform what she’s feeling into words. That is how she exorcizes her painful past, and how she escapes from her harsh present. She has obvious talent, but she’s unable to see it. She’s an undercover rapper, not daring to reveal her skills. That’s one of the film’s main themes: how an unacknowledged talent can find ways to express itself thanks to an encounter with another person.

“I wanted to deal with adolescence, friendship and music, and also my city, Marseille, and its northern districts which I know well. I wanted to film the local faces and capture the accents, from the point of view of girls who have to fight to survive”.

CHAZ Productions
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phone +33 973610274
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