Indie Shorts Awards Cannes

Ariane Boukerche

Ariane Boukerche is graduated from the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg (HEAR) where she produced videos installations and experimental films. Now she works as an editor and director for fictions and documentaries. Her shorts films where selected in Slamdance, AFI Fest, Palm Springs, Fantasia, Chicago International Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, Riga International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, etc. and won several awards.

Ariane, we are eager to hear, what was the trigger for such distinctive screenwriting? Would it be accurate to say that it goes beyond a kiss and dives into human relationships?
I wanted to express dark physical impulses, uncontrolled and avoid all that is reasonable or beautiful speech and I came to that forme of film. It came from a desire that connects my characters and goes beyond propriety, that we would be afraid to express or reveal to the person we love. This tension, this fear of letting go of everything had to be present from the first frame to the end of the film.
As a viewer, the reaction towards the saliva is very different from the one towards a kiss, however, one goes with the other. While a kiss can mean a lot of different things, it seems that saliva is only icky. What is the symbolism behind it?
Water fascinates me. It is an element capable of transforming everything it touches: making it smooth, shiny, melting, attacking the hardest surfaces and materials, allowing life, washing, purifying. Saliva is body water. I love that a liquid that looks so pure, transparent and colorless repels so much. Saliva comes out of the mouth and can tell the attachment of a person for another without words. It is this body language that comes straight out of the head that I wanted to use in this film. You can see sperm, wetness in this saliva… Even if I don’t show anything explicit, my film is quite sexual. An adult swallows a liter of saliva a day, yet it conveys a rather disgusting image. There must be another ingredient, an ingredient “proper” to the person who produces it. Saliva protects against external microbes. It is a humor that soothes wounds and helps healing. What about love wounds? Should we lick them? That we lick them? I use the metaphor of the kiss to show the awakening of desire. At the first kiss, a friendly relationship changes. It is a silent pact. And the last? Here this mixture of saliva no longer agrees as before. This couple’s love has rotted. It has mutated into an explosive cocktail and will cause chain reactions. On its course this substance awakens the appetite of the bodies and pushes them furiously towards others. The infectious germ enriches itself with the humors of those it contaminates and gains in virulence. Combining desire and disgust, it lubricates and prepares for fusion, for the dissolution of the flesh. The gestures are repeated and yet, each time something is lost. In the end, the man is alone, the woman has disappeared.
Was there any uncomfortableness on the actors' side on set?
I thought I was going to have fun shooting this crazy movie, but it was a trying experience, especially because I had to ask my actors that I love to do all these unpleasant acts that I had written. They loved the idea and the principle of the film. They were very dedicated and professional. They didn’t back down from anything but I have to admit that it surprised me and made me uncomfortable when I saw them doing what I had imagined. I did a lot of sleepless nights before shooting the flood scene. Even with a big budget that I obviously didn’t have the special effects couldn’t have substituted for the live action footage. I wanted to make a very primary and frontal film and could not avoid directing this scene in real life. It was the first day of filming, the extras didn’t know each other but they quickly got into the mood during rehearsals and the one take was quite successful. In the end, it was the other scenes that were more difficult to shoot. Between the actors and the technical team there were more than twenty-five of us in an apartment that was certainly large but where there was hardly any empty space. It was in August, it was very hot. Under the lights the carpet stank because it was still damp. “They salivate ” is much more fun to show than to do. I’m so grateful to my team and the apartment owners for supporting me.
How was your shift from being a producer of video installations and experimental films into working as an editor and director of fictions and documentaries?
It is the same quest to me. It is always how we can use pictures and sounds to go further, show or not show to allow spectator’s interpretations. I love working as an editor because in the editing room we are in the film. It is getting his almost final form at that stage. It is also a most privileged moment to be with a director. He is all alone with you, with his doubts, his visions and I learnt a lot from them.