Nicolas Peduzzi is the director of "Ghost Song", available on Ifcinéma

Houston is a city that breeds rebels, people who keep on the sidelines.

Ghost Song, the second film by director Nicolas Peduzzi, is part of a selection presented by the Institut français on Ifcinéma to mark the 30th anniversary of ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion). Nicolas Peduzzi talks to us about his career, his documentary shot in Houston and the role of ACID. 

Published on 29/11/2022

2 min

Nicolas Peduzzi
© DR

You had other lives before devoting yourself to documentary film. Could you briefly summarise your career for us? 

I was born in Paris, and spent part of my teenage years in Italy before studying theatre in the United States. I was trained there by Geraldine Baron and Susan Batson, veterans of the Actors Studio. At that time I was already interested in directing, and I was also taking directing courses at NYU. The transition to film came later, when I found the subject of my first film, Southern Belle. Taylor, the main character in the film, was my girlfriend at the time. We remained friends and I spent a lot of time in Houston, where she lived with a very conservative family. So I wanted to do a portrait of her. It was through her that I met the characters in my second film, Ghost Song


Southern Belle and Ghost Song are set in Houston. What drew you there? 

It's definitely not a city you would go to for tourist reasons, it's not Austin, the much cooler city in Texas. Houston is a very Republican city, but one where a lot of underground art movements were born in the 90s. For example, in the neighbourhood where Bloodbath, the main character in Ghost Song lives, with the musical movement led by DJ Screw. Houston is a city that breeds rebels, people who keep on the sidelines. In meeting people there, I discovered a whole life, somewhat hidden behind the curtain of this great city of oil and hurricanes. 


Ghost Song features a gallery of charismatic characters, like the rapper Bloodbath. How did you meet them and what made you want to film them? 

At first, it was like love at first sight. They were often people with whom I already have a friendly relationship. I spent time with them, we talked a lot, and the film is born of this relationship, there is an element of co-authorship. It is in this space that the boundaries between fiction and documentary are blurred. My first two films were shot in Texas, with these characters who are very theatrical, who already carry something very cinematographic within them. Hence the interesting contrast when I try to film them immersed in their daily reality. 

Ghost Song : bande-annonce
Ghost Song : bande-annonce

Werner Herzog spoke of "ecstatic truth" to define his practice, which consists of making his documentary films from scenes that were acted out or replayed. This is a dimension that can also be found in your work. What interests you in this process?

I didn't know this term, but I find it very intriguing. Jean Rouch also used to re-enact things, with the idea that staging oneself can bring out the most profound truths. I'm thinking, for example, of the confrontation between Will and his uncle in Ghost Song. It was a scene I couldn't film and I asked them to re-enact it. At first it seemed a bit contrived, but eventually the real grudges came out, reality took over and the uncle ended up chasing us out of his house. Giving some of the characters the opportunity to be watched allows them to relive something that is deeply embedded in them. 


To mark the 30th anniversary of ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion), the Institut français is making Ghost Song and 14 other films by filmmakers from the association available to the French cultural network abroad and its partners through the Ifcinéma platform. Could you tell us about the role of ACID and your involvement in the association?

The association was founded by filmmakers in 1992, around the idea of promoting independent cinema in cinemas. For example, it allowed my film Ghost Song to be shown at Cannes, in a separate section. The following year, I was asked to participate in the selection, which led me to accompany other directors' films around regional cinemas. In this way, we are involved in the distribution of films, to offer better access to independent cinema. 


How is independent cinema currently exported abroad? Do mechanisms such as ACID help to make a difference?

It is currently a very difficult period for cinemas. Personally speaking, ACID allowed Ghost Song to be released in cinemas, and I was able to accompany it to many regional screenings. The fact that the director is present is important for the public to get a grasp of a film. Abroad, the film was bought by Vice, in the documentary shortlist. After the release in France, we had an international release on platforms, with about a million spectators in the United States. A foreign theatrical release is not something that can be envisaged today in any case. 


What are you currently working on? Do you have any new projects to share with us?

At the moment I am finishing the editing of a film I shot in a hospital in France. I filmed a young psychiatrist called Jamal, whom I met during the first lockdown at the Beaujon hospital in Clichy. Jamal was the only psychiatrist in this public hospital. Once again, I fell in love with the film, so I followed him for two years. A pre-edit was shown at Work in Progress in Bordeaux, which will allow us to finance the post-production of the film with the help of the Aquitaine region. 

The Institut français

To mark the 30th anniversary of ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion), the Institut français presents a special selection on IFcinéma. 

Learn more 

L'institut français, LAB