3 questions to Sofia Alaoui
“I could get rid of a talented actor if he doesn’t interest me humanly”
Moroccan director Sofia Alaoui, who returns to Sundance with her first feature film: “Animalia”, answers our questions.
– Where does this bestiality in the approach come from, or to tell through the animal and the animality?
Let’s say that perhaps the two titles seek to insult a momentum towards an elsewhere.
“Animalia” comes from Anima in Latin which means soul, in ancient Greek psyche (breath), in Hebrew Nèphesh (to breathe). The soul, the breath, is the life of a creature or what gives life to a human being, an animal (or a plant).
So that’s more the idea.
– There is a raw side assumed while daring the sophistication of the staging. Is directing non-professional actors important to you?
I like manufacturing, colliding with reality. That’s what I liked in documentaries and what I’m trying to bring into the production process. However, I am a filmmaker who likes the image not so much beautiful things, but giving meaning to things, to the setting, to the sets, that each shot is not just improvised but that there is a hidden meaning in the one that would like to understand. For me it’s important, because it’s kind of the essence of cinema to give meaning via the image.
So, marrying this documentary process of production with a story and a particular aesthetic is precisely the marriage that I wanted to make in my films. Regarding the actors, I didn’t choose arbitrarily as a manufacturing dogma: I will only shoot with pro or non-pro actors. For me, it’s about meeting. If Mehdi Dehbi hadn’t been humanly interesting to me, I wouldn’t have taken him. It’s the fact that it’s the personalities of the people who are going to embody my actors that counts and then obviously the talent, but that for me, that comes after. I could get rid of a talented actor if he doesn’t interest me humanly.
– Where does this obsession for the end of the world, or the end of a world, come from?
Yes, I would rather say the end of a world. I do not know. I think I had an early awareness of death and how quickly our lives go by. Despite this, we realize that we live in a mechanical way, respecting without questioning the patterns established by our fathers. In Morocco especially, questioning global thinking always seemed difficult to me. So yes, I wanted to confront Morocco and the world more broadly with an end of the world that would offer a kind of new beginning. Because besides the word apocalypse means the unveiling, the revelation, it is not an end in itself black or terrible.