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Cannes Film Festival – Céleste Brunnquell: “I would like to have a split career”

Cannes Film Festival – Céleste Brunnquell: “I would like to have a split career”
Cannes Film Festival – Céleste Brunnquell: “I would like to have a split career”

Everyone only talks about her. Céleste Brunnquell, 21, has become essential in a short time, to the point that Unifrance has designated her as one of the ten new faces of French cinema as part of the 10 to Watch operation. Alongside, among others, Raphaël Quenard, Iris Kaltenbäck (The Rapture) or Stéphan Castang (Vincent must die), the young actress was selected by a college of journalists for the singularity of her artistic choices.

Revealed by The Dazzled (2019), by Sarah Suco, which earned her a nomination for the César for Most Promising Actress, she exploded in the event series In therapy (2021), by the duo Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. Since then, she has been noticed in The Origin of Evil (2022), by Sébastien Marnier, Her Father’s Daughter (2023), by Erwan Le Duc, even at the theater in the play by Noémie Lvovsky Forget me (2022).

At the Cannes Film Festival, the rising star was on the red carpet with Anamaria Vartolomei and Matt Dillon for the biopic Mariaby Jessica Palud, presented out of competition, which looks back on the shattered destiny of actress Maria Schneider, victim of sexual assault on the set of the cult film Last Tango in Paris (1972), by Bernardo Bertolucci. Interview with a gifted woman who doesn’t keep her tongue in her pocket.

The JDD. Moved to be part of Unifrance’s 10 to Watch?

Celeste Brunnquell. I don’t really realize it because it’s the first time we’ve all been together like this on a terrace in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival. The team is great, I’m happy to meet people or see people I’ve already met and with whom I’ve developed affinities. Today I am benefiting from a spotlight like the nine other “talents” who will be highlighted with their films during events abroad organized by Unifrance.

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Do you have international ambitions?

I won’t go that far. I have a lot of admiration for people who manage to export themselves. In the past I collaborated with the actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart [120 battements par minute, NDLR] who lives in Greece, works in France, Germany, Argentina, the country where he was born, or Sri Lanka. He is in the position of a foreigner, which allows him to take a certain step back and a form of humility in relation to the game. I think I would enjoy filming in another language. I often get asked about the United States. There is no fixed objective, but the idea of ​​a mop, why not. I would like my journey to be broken down a little.

​You spoke about it to Matt Dillon on the set of Maria ?

No, since we didn’t share any scenes. I met him in Cannes during the climb of the steps on Tuesday. He is very friendly and attentive. Afterwards, I don’t know English well enough to hold a whole discussion. I practice, because my English is very terrible. (Laughs.)

​This biopic addresses a difficult subject, sexual assault, with modesty.

At the same time, when we denounce something, we must not reproduce it. So the production used an intimacy coordinator. For the moment, there is no training in France yet. Until two years ago, only one was in office, a French-speaking woman of Belgian nationality. The practice is starting to take hold, but there remains a reluctance at the level of auteur cinema where we sense arrogance on the part of directors who say: “ It’s my movie! » and refuse to have their land encroached upon. Things are not yet completely integrated, it remains complicated.

​Does this awareness and support reassure you?

I haven’t had to shoot many sex scenes yet. But we notice on the screen that it is always the woman below and the man above, with a strange false modesty. From now on, everything is choreographed by the coordinator so that it makes more sense, so that it is artistic. It’s an integral part of the job. Don’t be afraid of it, because it will open up lots of possibilities.

Cannes is a marathon of contradictory emotions »

​What about equal pay?

I am yet to do a big budget film in the industry. I did a series of shoots, and parity was achieved with many female heads of station. When we have a little more means, everything changes: men take the upper hand and equality no longer exists. As a young actress, I can receive sexist remarks galore, so I set people straight. There will always be idiots! As soon as we broach this subject, excesses are to be feared. On set, we are in particular states of fatigue and anxiety, we must also consider this aspect.

​This year, the feminist Greta Gerwig is the president of the jury, and Judith Godrèche has unveiled a short film entitled Me too.

It’s definitely positive! Things are happening concretely and I find that powerful. When Judith Godrèche gave her speech at the Césars, she indicated that speech was freed but that it was not heard. Who will receive it, integrate it and act accordingly?

​What does Cannes mean to you?

For me, it was a fairly abstract notion before I got there. I didn’t necessarily know the festival, but I was well aware of its importance on the industry. Now, being there makes me feel funny. It’s the cradle of cinema, I’ve been there twice, you see the best and the worst. A marathon of stress and contradictory emotions, plus we don’t even have time to watch films.

Last year, I came with Her Father’s Daughter, by Erwan Le Duc, closing Critics’ Week. The atmosphere was family. It was a little painful to realize the rush for interviews and what a scary place the Croisette was. It was as joyful as it was intense. This time, I’m taking on the gala side, I’m starting to have fun. This evening, for the 10 to Watch climb, I am dressed as a fairy.

​Have you been courted by brands?

Yes a bit. I’m wearing an Armani dress. These are issues that I don’t really understand. It’s their job, not mine. I decided to take it well. My outfit has so much glitter that I don’t even need jewelry.

Did you meet your idols during your stay?

Oh no, I don’t really think about that actually.

​Sometimes this can lead to a collaboration for a film.

I try not to think about that, because if you sympathize with a director with the aim of working with him, it skews the relationship. I prefer simple reports. Afterwards, beyond social events, here, we can have real professional and friendly meetings. Projecting myself into the world of cinema still remains complicated for me.

​What made you want to pursue this profession?

I had to ask myself this question after starting quite young. I did theater at school, then my first film without really realizing what it was about. I am only realizing today where I put meaning into what I do. Like working with people who are sincere and loving, who have a vision and make films as unformatted as possible, questioning to bring a new perspective on things and stimulate our imagination.

Was this your little girl’s dream?

I had actress models, but as children we confuse fiction with reality. Everything blends together and forms one and the same image. So I fantasized, without telling myself that I would be part of this world one day. My idols were The Blues Brothers (1980) by John Landis, which I loved, a slightly bizarre film, I watched it over and over with the family. I started to love the stage thanks to classical dance. My parents would bring guests, I would kidnap them into the living room to show them my show. I continue to practice, but not with the same rigor as before. It complements the game.

​Did you hope for such enormous success for In therapy ?

Even now, people continue to talk to me about it. It propelled my career even though it was my second project, and I didn’t yet have an agent at the time. The casting director of Dazzled contacted me. I didn’t know the original series at all, I did this without really knowing what it represented. It influenced everything else. TV has a crazy impact on people.

I’m not going to completely abandon myself to this job »

Would you like to start again?

Why not, I don’t care about the format. Television is a very particular world. When people call on me in the street, they always have a kind of closeness to me, something immediately intimate. I refused offers because they didn’t interest me. I say no to a lot of things. It’s a luxury: I still live in Paris, with my parents, I’m 21 years old, materially I have no financial needs. At worst, I tell myself I’ll do something else, that’s my mentality. I’m not going to completely abandon myself to this profession: if the projects no longer excite me, I will go in another direction. I won’t be able to play things that I don’t like. I’m not technical enough, I don’t have that mental strength. Now, I’ve decided, I’m going to leave the house, I’ve found a roommate so I won’t be alone.

​You are featured inA matter of principle by Antoine Raimbault, currently in theaters, June 5Waiting for the night by Céline Rouzet, June 19 Maria by Jessica Palud!

We become a little schizophrenic: A matter of principle was filmed in September, Waiting for the night almost two years ago. Everything comes together, it’s a coincidence. I will soon be in What is love ? by Fabien Gorgeart, an ensemble film in which I play the daughter of Laure Calamy and Vincent Macaigne, my character is very funny. It’s rare to read scenarios where the family is well represented, in a kind of collective hysteria and chaos that we don’t see too much in the cinema.

​A French director makes you dream?

There are plenty of them that I love. This is a delicate question because I don’t necessarily plan ahead. I even forget people’s names, I’m so bad! But let’s say Alain Guiraudie and Albert Serra, who create completely unique things. These are cinemas that speak to me.

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