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In Competition: "Lorna's Silence" by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

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Palme d'Or laureates for Rosetta in 1999 and L’Enfant (The Child) in 2005, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne return to Festival Competition with Lorna's Silence. The filmmaking brothers have also served as Presidents of the Cinéfondation and Short Films Juries (in 2000) and of the Caméra d'Or Jury in 2006. In their latest feature, they take another plunge into their hometown, Liège, Belgium, to explore the character of Lorna, a young Albanian woman drawn by love into a sordid plot. The predicament will quickly take on tragic proportions, and the weight of silence will become increasingly heavy to bear.

The Dardenne brothers recalled how they chose Arta Dobroshi, the leading actress: "One of our assistants went to Pristina, Skopje, and Tirana in order to audition about one hundred professional and non-professional young actresses. We selected Arta Dobroshi. We had seen her in two Albanian movies a few weeks before. We went to Sarajevo, where she lives, to meet her, and we filmed her with our DV camera for a whole day. We filmed her walking, running, singing, and also playing in scenes like those in our movie. Then she came over to Liege and we filmed her acting with Jérémie Renier and Fabrizio Rongione. She was amazingly beautiful and natural. In the evening, before she flew to Sarajevo, we told her that we had selected her for the role of Lorna and that she would have to come back to Belgium a few months before the shooting to rehearse and learn French."

 

Press conference:

In conjunction with the in-Competition screening of Lorna's Silence, the film's Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, producer Denis Freyd, and actors Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, and Alban Ukaj held a press conference today. Highlights follow:

Jean Pierre Dardenne, on their intentions: "What interested us was telling the story of human beings from elsewhere, living in Western Europe. That's mainly Lorna, and Sokol. How they manage – by means that we cannot exactly approve – to obtain what they think is their share of happiness… We wanted this Lorna to remain human, with her dark side, her paradoxes, her contradictions, and her silence. But it's a beautiful silence, because it will 'give birth' to something, if I may say."

Luc Dardenne, on the shooting technique: "Our camera work was much calmer, because we wanted to watch Lorna. So the idea was not to keep up with her, trying to be inside her energy. What we wanted to do with our camera was more recording than writing."

The actors, on working with these directors:
Arta Dabroshi: "Working with Jean-Pierre and Luc is a great pleasure… First, you have rehearsals, one and a half months, and for the actors, it's heaven. Every day, we discovered new things about the character."
Alban Ukaj: "Directors a lot of time like to give their own examples, and in this case, it was the opposite. It was the actors who were giving examples, and the Dardenne brothers were drawing upon them. So it was really, really great. At some moment, I lost my feeling about cinematography, and I was more focused on theater."

Luc Dardenne, on working as a pair: "We talk to each other a lot, to write the screenplay. Then we do the casting ourselves, the two of us. On the set, we first work for a long time with the actors, without anyone else around. After that, when we sense that the shot is almost there, we call the cameraman, the director of photography, the sound engineer, and the production designer, if necessary. At that point, one of us will go off to watch the video monitor, and be quiet. Once the sequence has been shot, my brother and I discuss it in front of the monitor. Usually, no one is with us then. Next, the brother who is in charge of the shot discusses it with the rest of the crew. During editing and mixing, both of us are supervising. It's not any more complicated than working alone. In fact, maybe it's even simpler for us – otherwise, we wouldn't have kept doing it."

Jean-Pierre Dardenne on the differences between Lorna and the characters in their previous films: "Before we started the script, we set a guideline for ourselves: if we want to write a story that is related to the ones we've already told, the character must follow a different path this time. We knew it would be a woman; we knew the crime story it would be based on; but we also knew that her journey would have to be different from the ones our earlier characters had made. Even though all the characters in our films become more human in the end… That's also the case with Lorna, but differently."

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