Interview with Filmmaker Alexandra Favard (MOMENTUM)

Sarah plays rugby at top level and is about to go up a division with her team. When her wife Emily finds out she cannot have children, she asks Sarah to do something the rugby player had never considered: putting her career on hold to carry their child.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve wanted to tell a story about women’s relationship to motherhood for a very long time. Being a 30-year-old young woman when I started thinking about this film, I realized how omnipresent the question was becoming in my life, whether it was my friends, my family members, who embarked on this beautiful adventure of parenthood. But at the same time I had the feeling that it was often a sacrifice for women and I found it interesting to see that it was not obvious to all. Also, it was not necessarily immediate to get pregnant either, and that generated great frustrations and disappointments. All these intimate topics inspired me a lot because they raise a lot of questions about our deep desires and the reason why we do things. I also wanted to talk about the relationship to the body and there was no better way for me to talk about it than to integrate it into a sports issue, and what better sport to talk about the body than rugby? It is a very demanding sport that puts the body to the test. At the same time, it is the collective sport par excellence which enormously helps women to emancipate themselves, to find an inner strength. I also wanted to show that: strong images of athletic women invested in their sport, whatever the sacrifices. Finally, I wanted to make a love film, I wanted to talk about love between two women without the subject of their homosexuality being the problem. I wanted to normalize this kind of couple and get them through a crisis that any couple could go through… while underlining this particularity that I find interesting in a couple of women: both can bear a child, so who does? And that creates the starting point of the film.

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

I would say… three years.
I wrote a first version of the film in a very short time but I found it too talkative, not very cinematic. The idea of integrating the question into maternity on a high-level sportswoman who plays rugby came to me after seeing the film Ema by Pablo Larrain. I loved these groups of women who danced reggaeton together, powerful and proud. I live this in my personal life with rugby since I have been playing it for more than 10 years and I have very strong images in my head of these moments of group communion that we experience through our sport. It’s very strong to share that… and therefore to give it up one day. Once I started to rewrite the film with this idea, everything went fairly quickly: I was selected for a Parisian writing residency to properly finalize my script during 4 months and then my screenplay was produced. There were 12 candidates at the start and 3 films were produced. The preparation lasted a good 4 months, the shooting 5 and a half days and the post-production 1 month.
In total I would say that it took 3 years between the genesis of the project in my head and its final realization.

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

Wow that is so difficult ! I would say : intimate and embodied.

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

Having enough days to shoot it ! It was so tough to do all this in such a small amount of time. The rugby scenes were really intense to shoot. Thanks god I knew all the girls and we practiced the movement before hand. I wrote a very precise match sequence, everyone knew what they had to do.

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

It was so nice !! I was thrilled to listen to comments in English, from Americans who live thousands of miles from me and who were touched by my film. I loved the reactions, which I found very close to my intentions when I made this film, close to what I wanted to tell. It’s very generous to give specific feedback like that. I loved listening to them and I share them around me.

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

It’s hard to say… I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I just didn’t know I wanted to do it through film. I’ve always written a lot, but for myself, in my corner, then I wrote for others, documentary directors, then I directed my own documentaries… and I accompanied fiction directors as an assistant director and then one day I said to myself “and why not me?” and I started. It was 4 years ago.

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

I’m not the type to watch the same movie a thousand times. I think I mostly did that for films from my childhood: Disneys of course, The Sound of Music (I’m a great fan of musicals), Back to the Future, and a French comedy that everyone knows here called La Cité de la Peur (The City of Fear).

But more recently I will say that a film that I adored and that I can see again without difficulty is The Blind Side, which I recommend to all people who want to see a moving and spectacular film at the same time. And then I am a great fan of French director Céline Sciamma. Her film Tomboy is a masterpiece.

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

Given that this is my first fiction film and that you are part of the first festival to receive me, I couldn’t ask for more! I was already so honored to have been selected and to receive an award! Thanks again for all that. Maybe if it’s possible, if you have some, to receive some photos of the event to be able to talk about it that would be great.

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

Very easy and clear ! It’s difficult actually to stop submitting to festivals !

10. What is your favorite meal?

Lasagna !

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

I would love to make a movie again. I hesitate between starting to write a long version of Momentum and going on a completely different subject. Besides that, I continue to work on documentaries and assist directors on their projects. Long live the cinema!

By matthewtoffolo

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

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