Interview with Filmmaker Sophie Levy (MEDUSA)

MEDUSA was the FEATURE FILM WINNER from the 2021 FEMALE Filmmakers Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

From the early beginning, I’ve always known that I won’t have a lot of money for this first feature. That’s why I have decided to write a feature where all happens in one location only and with a minimum of characters. From this constraint, I have immediately thought about the myth of Medusa. A character far from the world, stuck into her cave. And then, while writing, things have changed and it always happens like that. And I like that : things evolves naturally between the script and the shooting, and between the shooting and the editing. And it’s the same when the film is finished : each time people watch it, they « receive » it in a different way, that have a different feeling and a personal interpretation of the film… And it’s maybe this adventure that has motivated me to do this feature…

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Maybe 3 or 4 years…

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

It’s an « inverted western »… When I was a child, I often watched western on TV. Each time the cowboys came back home, there was few sequences with women and then cowboys left for new adventures and bravery scenes. And I had only one desire : to stay at home with the women, and see what happened when men were not here anymore. Medusa is a bit like that. We stay home ! Outside, Guillaume is a kind of hero, since he is a fireman, he saves lives. But we don’t see nothing of this. We stay with Romane and Clemence.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Covid !!!! A real disaster for the cinema industry and in particular for « small » feature films like Medusa.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I real feel a huge pleasure because it’s really comforting to know that people who have watched my feature have liked it, and have found things that move them. I feel that when you direct a feature you have to be very severe with yourself and what you have done, and thus you feel very lonely in this process. So, when you listen to these feedbacks, when you see these reactions, it’s very touching.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I was going to be a dancer, and then I was hired in a small company and at the beginning, for the first show, I was a substitute and I spent the whole performance in the wings watching the others dancing. And I must say that it was a revelation. I still have a very clear picture of it. And I feel like that’s when I was drawn to choreography. But as the dance world is very small and above all very political, I didn’t really see how I could get grants to start a company. And that’s when the idea of making films must have germinated in my mind, I was quite convinced that cinema was a much more open and less politicized industry… Well… It’s often when you’re at the foot of the wall that you see the wall best!

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I hesitate, between “Faces” by John Cassavetes, “Death in Venice” by Visconti, “Amadeus” by Milos Forman and “The Source” by Bergman. These are very different films, but for very different reasons, they touch me enormously. “Faces” for the freedom of the actors and the freedom of John Cassavetes’ filming. Death in Venice, because it’s really one of the most poignant films I’ve ever seen… the solitude of this man who advances towards his own death while watching the spectacle of youth and beauty embodied by a teenager in his hotel, I find it deeply moving. Amadeus, no doubt for the vitality, humor, and flamboyance of Mozart, seen through the eyes of his worst enemy and at the same time his greatest admirer, Salieri. And “The Source”, because I find it fascinating that a scenario is given from the beginning of the film, just because the characters carry it in them in an obvious way, and that indeed everything comes true as one could foresee, and in a way so fatal that it becomes frightening. As a matter of fact, you don’t always need big twists to give strength to a story.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think that being selected and even better awarded in a festival can have a determining role for a director, and even more for a first film. It validates the film and it is an obvious boost to hope to make a second one. So the fact of having been awarded for Medusa is extremely precious for me.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Yes, I think that the fact that the film was seen in festivals via Film Freeway was a huge opportunity for me, because we were able to show it in festivals all over the world, in Canada, in Japan, in England, in Spain, in India, in the United States and in many other countries. I was often awarded for Medusa and I think we could never have had this visibility without the platform.

10. What is your favorite meal?

The leek with vinaigrette… no it’s a joke! I prefer profiteroles !.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I hope so! For the moment I am writing a new script…


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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