A Spanish film about the aftermath of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris premiered at the Berlin film festival on Monday, with actors admitting it was “difficult” to relive the trauma.
One year, one nightdirected by Isaki Lacuesta, is one of 18 contenders for the top Golden Bear award at the 72nd Berlin Film Festival.
The film stars Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Noémie Merlant as Ramón and Céline, a young couple who survived the attack but struggle to put their lives back together.
Ramón wants to talk about what happened and write everything down, while Céline wants to forget and gets out of it by immersing herself in her work as a social worker.
From the day after the attack, when Celine coldly opens her laptop to order groceries while Ramón lies in bed, it’s clear that the two characters represent very different ways of dealing with trauma.
Producer Ramón Campos said on Monday he was inspired to make the film after being in Paris the night of the deadly Bataclan attack.
“I found myself wandering alone in the city, in the streets, there was silence, there was mistrust between people, and that marked me,” he says.
Later he read a book called Peace, Love and Death Metal by Ramón González, a Spaniard who was at the Bataclan with his girlfriend and other friends the night of the attacks.
The real Ramón and Céline took part in the making of the film, an experience “particularly charged with emotion”, according to director Lacuesta.
They had “lived this experience in a totally different way” but agreed on one thing, he said: “They wanted to avoid the word ‘survivors’ because they wanted to live, not just survive.”
For Argentinian actor Pérez, 35, it was “hard” to immerse himself in such a traumatic story. “My body was full of very complex emotions and sensations,” he said.
French actress Merlant, 33, also spoke of the physical toll of making the film and the “back and forth” of drawing on her own experiences to render her character.
Merlant, who was in Paris the night of the “horrific” attack, said it was “important” to represent different ways of dealing with trauma.
learning to live
“Some need to talk, to share to move forward in life and there are others who don’t want to… There are no answers,” she said.
The film interweaves flashbacks of what happened that night with scenes from the present as Ramón and Céline’s careers through changing friendships and doubts about their own relationship.
Director Lacuesta said this structure was chosen in part to avoid focusing on the gory details of the attack. “We felt it would have been a betrayal to the people who were there,” he said.
Instead, he wanted to highlight “the part we’ve never seen before, how they’re trying to relearn how to live and especially how they’re trying not to give up on sex, love and rock and roll.”
The Bataclan attack was part of a wave of shootings and bombings in the French capital on the night of November 13, 2015 by gunmen that left 130 people dead.
Twenty defendants are on trial for the massacre in France, including the only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, whose verdict is expected in May.
by Femke Colborne, AFP