Filmmakers Emmanuel Marre and Julie Lecoustre tell us about their tour in Asia with the Institut français and Premiers Plans d'Angers

It is up to us, filmmakers, technicians and producers, to create films as prototypes.

Filmmakers of Zero Fucks Given, which won the GAN Foundation's Prix à la Diffusion at the 60th edition of La Semaine de la Critique, Emmanuel Marre and Julie Lecoustre have just presented the film during a tour in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. They share with us this experience, as part of a partnership between the Institut français and the Festival Premiers Plans d'Angers. 

Updated on 27/02/2024

5 min

Rien à foutre
© Martial Prévert

You co-directed a first film together, Zero Fucks Given, presented at La Semaine de la Critique in 2021. How did your collaboration and the film project come about? 

Emmanuel Marre: I started writing the project on my own after taking a Ryanair flight, where I was sitting in the front row opposite the stewardesses. That day, one of the stewardesses was very young and I had the impression that she was going through something horrible in her life, perhaps the loss of someone or a separation. There was a strong contrast between the hostess's uniform, make-up and hairstyle. This is one of those jobs where you have to hide your emotions, and her distress was all the greater for it. Immediately after take-off, she erased all that emotion by wearing a mask of a smile and, at the time, I found that very surprising. So the film is simply an attempt to invent a possible story for this person we will never meet again, by trying to find out what she left on the ground, what her days and nights were like.

Julie Lecoustre: I joined Emmanuel on the writing: we have a way of working, but also of writing, where the possibilities of production are intertwined with encounters and documentary research. There is something very organic about the way we enrich our writing, nourish it and make it deviate. Our first collaboration was on Emmanuel's medium-length film, D'un château l'autre, where we had already worked in the same way.


Zero Fucks Given has been acclaimed, including by the Prix à la Diffusion from the GAN Foundation, as well as several Magritte awards, including Best First Film. What impact did this positive reception have on the film?

EM: La Semaine de la Critique was really the beginning for us, we weren't expecting it at all and it was an extraordinary surprise, a kind of reward for the work on the film. It shone a light on the film, and the press took an interest in it. The Magritte awards, on the other hand, put an end to the life of the film, since it had already been shown in cinemas by then. When it came to showing the film, Zero Fucks Given went to a lot of unexpected places. We had no idea that it would have such a young audience, with, for example, the best figures achieved on the first day at the UGC des Halles or the Pathé Wepler in Paris. 

JL: There was a whole section of the public that exhibitors weren't used to seeing in cinemas. At La Semaine de la Critique, we were astonished, having filmed with a very small crew, in the middle of Covid. The film reflected something intangible, something shared by a whole generation. As for the awards, it is always a joy because it is the recognition of the work of the whole team. It was good to be able to say to ourselves that we can make films differently and that it's up to us, filmmakers, technicians and producers, to have this drive to create films as prototypes. 

Rien à foutre
© DR

You have completed a tour of Asia as part of a partnership between the Institut français and the Premiers Plans Festival in Angers. What were the highlights of your trip? 

JL: By covering three cities and three countries, we really made a kind of great leap. In Bangkok, for example, we went from the only independent cinema in Thailand to the Cinémathèque, a very prestigious venue. Each screening was made up of different encounters. To take just one example, one evening, on the eve of a workshop at Bangkok University, we met a young woman during a question and answer session, who spoke up to tell us how much the film had affected her. Having been a flight attendant herself, she had the feeling that we were telling her life story. It was quite unsettling to realise that in Bangkok you'd come across someone who had lived her dreams and disappointments in the same way. In fact, she'd had a career change and had become a teaching assistant for the class we were going to see the next day. In the end, we spent almost 24 hours with this young woman from the other side of the world, who felt involved and concerned, both personally and emotionally.

EM: What I s crazy is that we experienced a kind of total disorientation every time. And yet the people who watched the film would say to us "but we understand exactly what you mean". They were very sensitive, in much the same way as we had been in Europe, it was as if the film had no nationality.


You've just spoken about Bangkok, but you were also able to present Zero Fucks Given in Jakarta and Singapore. How did the exchanges and meetings go after these screenings? 

EM: I had the impression that there was something fairly common in Jakarta and Bangkok, but in Singapore it was very different. In the end it was an audience whose interest in the film was more 'classic', whereas in Jakarta and Bangkok there was more of an appetite for the making of things. 

JL: Let's just say that in Singapore it was more of an expatriate audience, whereas in Bangkok and Jakarta it was much more mixed. In Europe, we talked a lot about this ultra-European solitude, something that was very much in evidence in Jakarta and Bangkok. There was a lot of talk about mourning and, moreover, the question of leaving and returning home was also closely linked. These are very big countries, where people often leave to go to the capital without being able to return very often. So there's a gap between the great family emotions and the bereavements. 

Rien à foutre (Bande annonce)
Rien à foutre (Bande annonce)

After one of the screenings, an exchange took place with Thai film students. What do you remember about this time of discussion with young people who are passionate about images? 

JL: It was a mutual encounter: we each came with a different background, perceptions and cinematographic references. We felt the influence of genre cinema in their desires, in their impulses, and also of great fiction cinema. We were also curious about their cinematic desires, while they asked us how we could construct this fiction. They wanted to know how we could look for things in our daily lives and our environment and turn them into fiction. 

EM: We were really able to discuss the making of the film in a concrete way, and explain the way we work, particularly with a small team and improvisation. It was amazing for them. We really taught them a step-by-step process, but it was very interesting to talk to them because there was an enthusiasm that was as joyful as it was rejuvenating. They weren't afraid to show their passion in expressing what they were feeling.


Did this experience create international opportunities for you and the film? 

EM: In terms of the industry and in relation to the Premiers Plans Festival in Angers, this is a film that arrived later in the process. With Covid, everything was delayed, which enabled it to be supported. For example, Rien à foutre was shown on an Indonesian platform and we were able to hold a press conference, which gave us contacts in the industry. We were also able to meet Thai distributors, which was very interesting in terms of getting a better idea of how things work. 


After Zero Fucks Given, do you already have an idea for a second feature film? Are you going to continue working together or pursue separate projects?

JL: We're each working on a future feature film, but we're still involved in each other's projects. We're in two different places, I'm in the middle of writing while Emmanuel is at the end of writing.

EM: Even though we're each writing a full-length feature separately, we help each other with the writing and we support each other a lot on projects. In the future, we'd like to find something we both like so that we can embark on another joint project.


The Premiers Plans Festival in Angers puts around a hundred first European films in competition each year. The Institut français, through its support for the emergence of young talent, supports the festival and offers a selection of 13 feature films from its recent programming, which can be used for regional tours with the aim of promoting innovative and creative filmmaking, as well as directors, scriptwriters and actors beyond national borders. 

L'institut français, LAB