Directors Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers and Carmine Pierre-Dufour talk about their Provincetown International Film Festival Award Winning Film ‘FAMNI’, which has qualified to be considered for an 2023 Academy Award
The bond between mother and daughter is one of the greatest we’ll ever experience within our life times, the older we become, the tougher it can perhaps become to let guards down and communicate with one another – personal circumstances getting in the way of making much needed quality time to reunite and reconnect. Meditating on this powerful bond, co-directors Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers and Carmine Pierre-Dufour present their Provincetown International Film Festival award winning short film Famni, a heart warming story of a daughter who is so engrossed in her own life after a break up, that she doesn’t notice her mother is hiding the real reason behind her visit. Sandrine and Carmine tell us more about exploring this thought provoking topic further, working with cinematographer Léna Mill-Reuillard and producer Francois Bonneau to realise the film, and what they’ve both taken away from the creative process.
Hi Sandrine and Carmine, your short film Fanmi has qualified to be considered for a 2023 Academy Award. How are you feeling?
Excited and honoured! It’s taken 7 long years to get this short film made. Fanmi was produced with our own money and the great generosity of our partners and collaborators. We shot it in Carmine’s apartment, Sandrine’s mother was the costume designer, the catering was provided by our producer François’s and Carmine’s moms; it was truly a family affair and a labour of love!
We are very proud of the film’s trajectory so far. It got into world-renowned festivals and events such as theToronto International Film Festival, Canada’s TOP 10, Provincetown International Film Festival, Aspen Film Festival. But now, being considered for the Oscars has truly exceeded all of our expectations! As filmmakers, we want our work to be seen so it’s really touching that Fanmi has reached moviegoers around the world, that it’s found its audience.
For Sandrine, it’s her second time being in consideration for the Oscars, her first time being for her short film Just Me and You in 2020. We both hope this time we’ll be the good one!
Fanmi is a heart warming story of a daughter who is so engrossed in her own life after a break up, that she doesn’t notice her mother is hiding the real reason behind her visit. What inspired you both to explore this narrative further?
Fanmi is based on a short story by Quebec writer Monique Proulx. The way Proulx depicted this mother/daughter relationship felt like a complex and authentic portrayal of what that bond can be like and that’s what we were interested in translating on screen. The funny thing is when we first started working on this project, we could identify with the daughter more, how the mother’s presence disrupted her quiet life, but in the years it took to make the film, we both became mothers and now have a new understanding of what a mother would do to protect their child.
Fanmi is the winner of the Best Narrative Short Film, awarded by Provincetown International Film Festival. How does it feel to have received the award?
We couldn’t be in Provincetown to receive it unfortunately so it felt a little surreal when they emailed us to give us the good news! We were very touched that the jury chose our film for the Best Narrative Short award. Since Fanmi centers on the relationship between two black women, it means a lot to win at a festival whose mission is to showcase work from underserved communities.
You’ve both directed the film, with cinematography created by LénaMill-Reuillard and produced by Francois Bonneau. How have you all worked together to realise the film?
Our producer Françoishas been incredibly supportive from the very beginning, doing everything in his power to give us the tools we needed to realize our vision. As for Léna, we felt so lucky to have her collaborate with us on Fanmi. She’s a talented director of photography, but also has a practice in visual arts, which helped us experiment with lighting and reflections throughout the film. It was particularly fun to work together on the progressive growth of the pinkish lightth at represents the daughter’s intuition.
What have you learned/taken away from creating the film?
Carmine: Fanmiis only my second short film so just working alongside Sandrine, who is a seasoned director, I learned a lot. Ultimately, I think the biggest takeaway for me is that when a project is meant to be, it will happen, even if it’s years down the line. After not getting any financing for this film, it felt like maybe it was time to put it to bed, but the universe kept on sending me signs that this project needed to happen and that the timing was now. I’m glad I listened to the universe! And I’m grateful to Sandrine and François for never giving up on this film!
Sandrine: I immediately fell in love with Carmine’s script, but I also saw a beautiful challenge. The film encapsulates the complexities of a mother/daughter relationship and to find success, we needed to build a balance between what is said (mostly the futile part of the relationship) and the silences (loaded with what was essential). But how do you portray what is unsaid in a relationship? It was stimulating to work on that “transparent” aspect using the silences, mise en scene, acting, light, sound. It was also the first time I co-directed. It was great to work with Carmine who had thought about this film for years and came loaded with ideas and solutions, but also allowed the space for us to create together. I’m grateful that she asked me to collaborate and share that creative space.
What can viewers expect from the film?
Fanmiis not a short film that is meant to shock or surprise. It’s subdued. It’s filled with love and sadness. These two women love each other, but struggle to communicate, to express their feelings to one another. We hope that viewers will be moved and that they will celebrate this kind of cinema that thrives on nuances, sensitivity and humanity.
What would you like for viewers to take away from the film?
The film is dedicated to our mothers (and to the mothers of our producer and actresses) because, no matter what we’ve been through and what we still face today, these women nurtured us, took care of us, supported us. We hope that part of the dynamic we portray in the film can speak to viewers and make them further appreciate the people in their lives who raised them.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
To find out more about Famni, visit here…