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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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IFFI 51, 16-24 January, 38: Pierre Filmon’s Long Time No See was realised after ten years, but took only five days to shoot

IFFI 51, 16-24 January, 38: Pierre Filmon’s Long Time No See was realised after ten years, but took only five days to shoot

They were meeting after nine long years of separation. They had eighty minutes to rewind their journey, re-evaluate their lives, to face their truth, regrets and memories. And, this is their last chance. In a nut-shell, the story of the French movie ‘Long Time No See (Entre Deux Trains)’ can be described like this.

Directed  and scripted by Pierre Filmon, ‘Long Time No See’ tells the  turn of events in the life of two people who, though for a brief time, were intensely in love in the past and quite unexpectedly, meet at a railway station after nine years, and had only 80 minutes to spare.

The director, while addressing a press conference at the 51st International Film Festival of India, in Panaji, Goa said, “It took me many years to write this project, even though the shooting just needed five days, because, from action to cut, it was shot in long shots.”

Filmon said he began writing the script for the film when he was quite young. “I wrote a script about two people meeting in a hospital. They met, fell in love and had intense moments, but they got separated.”

The movie was screened under the World Panorama section of the festival.

Filmon had quite an emotional journey before having been able to transform it into a film. “My script was ready, but when it was time to produce it, another French film came out with the same synopsis; and it killed my film. It was not like stealing any idea, because sometimes, we film-makers have more or less the same idea. Yet, it took me years to recover from this. After that, one fine day, I took the old script and thought ‘it cannot just die as it meant so much to me’. I was ten years older by then, but that never mattered. After many rewrites, we finally arrived at where we are today.”

Filmon was asked how he finalised shooting locations since the characters of the film are complex and had to be shown within a short time span of 80 minutes. “Landscapes inspire me. The places where I have shot the film - be it the railway station, the botanical garden - I knew every inch of their situational details, as for a year I walked past them every week. I knew those places would add something to the story.”

Describing the importance of how such films needed to be shot in real locations, Filmon said: “Though I had earlier made a short film which was completely shot in a studio, films like mine must be shot in real locations, as studios limit reality.”

When asked about why a railway station was chosen as the main location, Filmon quoted one of the first movies in history, by Lumière Brothers, in which the initial shot is of a train coming towards the camera. “Railway stations still open the minds of every viewer to various emotions. Life comes to a full circle there.” 

While thanking IFFI for inviting the film here, Filmon said, “It's an international pride to be here in Goa, to present our film. I was here four years back, and it feels like home-coming.”

The movie, in which Laëtitia Eïdo and Pierre Rochefort have acted as main protagonists, has won some awards, including the Nominee Audience Choice Award for Best Feature at the Stony Brook Film Festival 2020, and the lead actor won the best actor festival prize at the Girona Film Festival, 2020.

After literary and musical studies, Pierre Filmon, at 22, crossed Russia by taking the Trans-Siberian railway, to arrive in China where, thanks to the Beijing Cinema Academy, he filmed his journey with a 16mm camera. The images he brought back to Europe gave birth to his first short fiction film, Bleus de Chine (China Blues, 1996 - 15mn). Then followed Les Épousailles (1999 - 13mn), Anton Tchékhov (Chekhov), and then Le silence, first (2002 - 22mn) performed by Rüdiger Vogler and supported by the CNC & ADAMI. These three productions were selected at around fifty festivals in France (Clermont-Ferrand, Pantin, Metz, etc.) and internationally (Rome, Dublin, Rome, Cologne, Drama, Uppsala, Rimouski, etc.), where they won several prizes before being released in theaters in Paris, in 2004, in a short film programme. After training in screenwriting at La Fémis in Paris, Pierre had the chance to work on a fictional screenplay alongside Budd Schulberg (awarded the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1955 for "Sur les quais/On The Waterfront" by Elia Kazan), a scenario that has not yet resulted in a film.  Daddy is Dead, (9 mn 40sec), Pierre's first short documentary, was presented at the Clermont-Ferrand and Pantin Festivals, in 2015. His four short films are now all available on YouTube.

Encouraged by a very favorable French and international press, his first feature documentary was released in cinemas in France and Hungary, in November 2016, co-produced by TCM Cinéma, Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond (2016 - 80mn), portrait of the legendary director of Hungarian photography Vilmos Zsigmond, who worked with Robert Altman, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Brian De Palma, Michael Cimino and Martin Scorsese. In addition to the testimony of this magician of light, the documentary offers a series of interviews with several personalities including John Boorman, Jerry Schatzberg, Peter Fonda, Vittorio Storaro, John Travolta and Isabelle Huppert. In Official Selection, at the 69th Festival de Cannes (Cannes Classics), and in competition for the Camera d'Or and the Eye of Gold, his film was also selected at the Festivals of Munich, La Rochelle, Deauville, Miskolc (Hungary), Ghent (Belgium), Arras, Amiens, Camerimage (Poland), Quezon City (Philippines), Goa (India), Hong Kong, Beijing (China), Panama City, and was screened at the Cinémathèque Française and the Institut Lumière. After 65 appearances on European cable channels (from 2016 to 2021), the film is now available on DVD (TAMASA editions) and on Amazon Prime US & UK.

His second feature film, a fiction, co-produced by Le Studio Orlando, Prodigima Films and Almano Films: Entre Deux Trains (Long Time No See, 2020 - 74mn) with Laëtitia Eïdo ("Fauda", "Holy Air", " Tel Aviv on Fire ”and the forthcoming films by Isild Le Besco, Bernard Campan, Yvan Attal and Terrence Malick), Pierre Rochefort (“Un beau dimanche ”,“ Nos Futurs”, “Ma Famille et le loup ”,“ le bureau of legends”) and Ronald Guttman (“In Pursuit of Red October ”, “Welcome to New York ”, “Danny Balint”) and Estéban (“Take me out of a doubt ”, “The aquatic effect”, “La fille du 14 Juillet) were selected for their International Premiere by Dominique Besnehard at the 12th  Francophone Festival of Angoulême, and then travelled to around twenty international festivals: 6th FF in La Baule, 23rd FF in Albi, 10th FF in Valenciennes, 4th FF in Châlons-sur-Saône, 23rd Shanghai IFF (China - Première Internationale), 10th Beijing IFF market ( China), 4th IFF Vilmos Zsigmond de Széged (Hungary), 42nd Moscow IFF (Russia), 38th Fajr IFF (Iran), 4th Lebanese IFF (Beirut), 6th Lift-off Tokyo (Japan), 4th Fimucite IFF (Tenerife), 4th Ciudad del Este Film Festival (Paraguay), 2nd Buenos Aires Film Festival (Argentina), 25th Stony Brook IFF (USA) and 18th Morelia IFF (Mexico). Pierre Rochefort won the Best Actor Award at the 32nd Girona FF (Spain).

Member of the French Cinemathèque, since 2007, Peter was a member of the Jury Documentary 7 th Festival2Valenciennes, the Jury of the first fiction "Vilmos Zsigmond Film Festival" in Szeged, Hungary, and Vulcan Jury Prize, at the 70th Cannes film Festival in 2017. In August 2018, he founded his production company Almano Films, to co-produce his films.

Pierre is currently in post-production of his fifth short film, entitled Masque à Maman (12mn), with Firmine Richard, Jean-Pierre Castaldi and Pierre Rochefort, shot at the Tour Montparnasse by special authorisation, in August 2020, co-produced with Zodiac Movies.

Finally, Almano Films will publish in autumn 2021 the autobiography of Paul Hirsch (editor of Star Wars and ten films by Brian de Palma), translated by Pierre, in co-association with Carlotta Films.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


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