Le Poussin et les Sourcils

Peacefully living together, Mira, a child psychologist and her boyfriend Wael, a struggling writer, get into a two-folded dilemma after sensing some odd events concerning one of Mira's patients.

Interview with director Rami Samir Salloum

What is the story behind your film?
Briefly, the present film tackles a societal sensitive and taboo topic that has been prevalent long ago, with no eminent traces or clear marks behind. The story was embodied by two main characters "Wael '', a struggling writer and "Mira '', a child psychologist, who have worn the faux-self of the case, accompanied by a third supporting character "Matheo '' whom the story revolves around. Unwittingly, the latter who is Mira's patient tends to reveal what has been manipulatively hidden by Wael all along.

What should people take away, gain, realize after watching your film?

Intentionally, this film aims at widenning viewers' eyes to a large extent to catch the hidden keys of these specific ill people present among us. This film was originally written with the intent of shedding light at the problem itself and exposing this kind of illness rather than finding the solution for it. Additionally, what should be carried away by the audience is the fear and intimidation sensed by "Matheo" throughout his trial.

Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
Normally, films are written and shot aiming at spreading societal awareness, building new perspectives and hitting the youth's mind. However, not all films abide by the aforementioned rules as brainwashing is noticeable in some cases which is causing conflicts among communities. Whereas the intention behind my film was clearly highlighting negative aspects in order to make people see, recognize and learn for a positive result. Not to deny that, some will root for the anti-hero while others will definitely sympathize with the victim.

How was the creation of your project at the time of COVID-19?

Fortunately, during the shooting, we have faced no difficulties related to covid-19 as there was no lockdown back at that time in addition to low numbers of infected people. Whereas, all precautions were being respected on set entailing vaccines, masks and sanitizing.

What creation style did you use in the production of your project? What cameraman elements did you use?
As it was previously mentioned, the story reflects reality and therefore the style had to be realistic rather than poetic. Thus, the language of the film was as dirty as the content on the account of making the audience the closest possible to the characters. Likewise, no tripods were used but a shoulder rig instead for a tensional hand-held camera movement as a way to sharpen the language.

How did you select the actors for your project?

Frankly, I was inspired by my main actor's skills, who is a friend of mine as well, so I opted for writing a controversial weighty role for him knowing that he is going to excel at it. As for the remaining characters, a casting was held to finally decide on the female character who played "Mira" for her spontaneous and authentic acting skills which have served the film's reality. Finally, the third young actor was selected for his pure and innocent face which makes people sympathize for him especially that he had no dialogue to deliver but expressions-focused instead.

Why do you think your film should appeal to distributors?

Undoubtedly, films carrying the same issue or taboo topic have been made in the past but what makes mine discernible is the new perspective and context that the case was put into, and the mere initiative itself of tackling such taboo is controversial and attention-grabbing for the distributors and the audience. As far as I am concerned, what makes it appealing is the combination of factors ranging from writing, directing, acting to producing and full execution of the film.

At which festival has your film been screened?

The film has not been screened publicly yet however it was selected, nominated and won awards in several private and closed festivals.

How did your acquaintances react when they first saw the film?

Prior to this film, my whole past ones were made with full conservatism so this radical shift to controversialism led to mind-blowing and surprising reactions among my acquaintances. As for my previously mentioned intention behind the film, the intended fear, intimidation, anxiety, shock, and hatred altogether were successfully conveyed into their senses as planned.

If you could change something in your film, what would it be?
Each film for me is a journey having its own turbulence, impediments and struggles on the one hand, and good experiences, unforgettable memories and my own satisfaction on the other hand. As a matter of fact, my film had its peculiar pros and cons of which I would definitely never change, omit or regret.

Which movies are your favorites and why?

Personally, I believe that psychology and cinema are closely linked. In watching and filmmaking, the former is a major inspiration to me, as pertained to researching, writing and meaty characters building. However and inevitably, philosophy and religion are contradictory topics and rare are the people who can balance between the two. Consequently, as a believer but life-questioning person, my target for the moment is to create the perfect strategy that mixes between psychology, philosophy and religion aiming at translating it into films leaving my mark behind.

What topics do you like to address in your stories?

On a personal level, I clearly prefer to address topics related to psychology, philosophy and religion but in a modernized way that leaves the audience in a questionable state of mind far from cliché stories and topics.

What is your motivation in making films?

As a 30 year old filmmaker, I believe that the acquired inventory within me is convincingly weighty enough to embrace my inspiration and discern my vision. Additionally, and especially in the Arab world, all the events, surroundings, people and relations are a major motivation for me to build upon my stories and render them into reality.

Which contemporary filmmakers motivate you the most?

One of the most internationally prominent figures whom I respect the most is the Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan for the sole fact that he is atop all who have executed psychological drama, broke taboos and reflected his personal issues into films. Dolan is known for digging deep into the characters' souls and intimacy as per his own saying "I make films with my heart" which breaks the wall between the characters and the audience.
On the local level, I am truly inspired by the Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki whose film "Capernaum" was nominated for the Academy awards. What makes her interesting and respected as well, is the intelligence, mentality, mindset and impact she has on society. For me, I could nominate her as a role model for all Arab women willing to be independent, successful and appreciated. She is definitely a Lebanese pride.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?

Currently, I have almost finished writing my first feature film and applying for funding grants. Giving no spoilers, my film will mark the switchover from the typical religious films to what will be the so-called new era of making religion.

Other shorts are being written at the time, two of which are of psychological drama genre and one of light comedy genre so as to relieve people from the latest mind-ferocious films.
Besides filmmaking, I am planning on seriously stepping into the music videos field as music has always been a passion to me.

Rami Samir Salloum
A Lebanese director from Batroun, I studied directing at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, and I have been working in this field for more than seven years. Today, I specialize in directing, photography, writing, editing, in addition to graphics and animation. I had many experiences in short films and music videos. I participated in many workshops in Lebanon and some of my films participated in many film festivals in Lebanon and abroad.
Learn more about Rami at his instagram profile.

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