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Nine Antico • Director of Playlist

"It’s similar to lots of women who are trying to enjoy their freedom"


- A well-known name in the world of French comic books, Antico tells us about her first steps as a director and explains her heart-warming film exploring a young woman’s tribulations in Paris

Nine Antico  • Director of Playlist
(© Mathieu Zazzo)

Released in French cinemas today by KMBO, Playlist [+see also:
film review
interview: Nine Antico
film profile
is the first feature film directed by the well-known comic book author and illustrator Nine Antico (Le Goût du Paradis, Coney Island Baby and Girls Don’t Cry). Starring Sara Forestier, this inventive, realist and funny feminist film is produced by Atelier de Production and sold worldwide by Playtime.

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Cineuropa: You’re a comic book author and illustrator. What drove you to try your hand at film direction?
Nine Antico
: My father was a bit of a film lover, and my first film experience was A Streetcar Named Desire, which showed me that an old black and white film could be far sexier than I thought. I was also involved in various short films when I was twenty or so, with people I’d met while working as a waitress at the same time as studying at film school. After that, I gravitated towards the film world before drawing took the upper hand again. But the way I make comic books is a form of screenwriting and storyboarding in and of itself, like I’m making my very own film. One day, Thomas Verhaeghe [Atelier de Production] approached me with the idea of adapting my comic book Girls Don’t Cry. I was thrilled because I wanted to make a film, but I preferred the idea of writing an original screenplay. It took quite a long time to write, and when it came to asking who would direct it, I said to myself "why not me?", even though the thought of it terrified me. I started out co-writing the film with Marc Syrigas, who worked on The French Kissers [+see also:
film review
film profile
, The New Eve (one of my favourite films) and Les apprentis, but in the end I took over the text myself and brought it back to something close to my heart: the hunger I felt, when I was twenty or so, to know what sector I wanted to work in, without having any kind of certainty that it was going to work out, and the impression that everything broke as soon as I touched it, that everything was fragile. I was also looking for love in the midst of my existential quest: it was total chaos! So I wanted to make a brutal comedy describing the vulnerability, hunger and permeability we sometimes feel before the onset of adult life.

How did you settle on the film’s tone, which might be described as tragicomic?
The films which move me the most are the ones which continually swing from one emotion to the other, because it’s a bit like the magic of life: nothing is ever fixed, you can find yourself laughing at terrible moments in time; people and situations aren’t straight lines. It’s impossible to try to explain it, but I wanted to move within that spectrum. Just like in my comic books, I like to combine depth and artifice, melancholy and humour, even when I’m only exploring light-hearted subjects.

The protagonist suffers countless rejections and her dreams are often hampered, but she carries on regardless.
In the course of all of our lives, there are phrases which have affected us for better or for worse. But we also need these in order to move forwards: it’s about knowing when to listen and when to stick to your guns. That’s true for all kinds of undertakings, artistic or otherwise. It’s part of the everyday harshness of life. Moreover, everyone in the film has their own weaknesses, and little acts of cruelty come from all directions.

What about the formal decisions you made, such as filming in black and white and the voice-over?
Most of my comic books are in black and white. I like the glamourous side of black and white, and the fact that there is no loss in image strength, as can sometimes happen with colour. There are also a lot of ugly, modern-day things in real life and [the choice of black and white] helped me to avoid them and to be more efficient by focusing on other aspects of film direction.
The voice-over can also be linked back to comic books, to what we say and what we don’t say, to their tendency towards red herrings and diversionary tactics, which is reminiscent of New Wave cinema. But it needed to make sense, it couldn’t be the protagonist’s voice, but rather the omniscient and mysterious voice of a man.

Could we speak of Playlist as a feminist film?
It’s not an act of militancy, it’s just my natural tone. The main character is similar to people I know, similar to me, similar to my world, similar to lots of women who are trying to enjoy their freedom. I just wanted to make a movie that warms the heart a little, along the lines of popular films like Pretty Woman, Reality Bites by Ben Stiller and The French Kissers.

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(Translated from French)

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