With a Little Help From Myself - Press Conference

545pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: With a Little Help From Myself
Story: Sonia is pretty and black. She is married with four children and works as a home-care aide in her housing projects. The day of her daughter’s wedding, the sky come crashing down on her head. Robert, her 80-year-old neighbor, is the only person she can turn to. Whiter than him is hard to find. More helpful either. But in life, nothing is free. Except chance, if you know how to make the most of it.
Present: Félicité Wouassi (actress)

What is your impression of Japan?
I still haven’t had the chance to see much except for the TIFF venues, but I can say that the theaters are wonderful. Actually, my brother is married to a Japanese woman and they live in Kyoto. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to visit them this time, but the flight to Japan from Cameroon wasn’t as long as I thought so I’d love to come back again.

How did you meet François Dupeyron and be casted in this film?
Director Dupeyron saw a play I was in, which was Roman Polansky’s “Doute” and asked me if I was interested in being a part of a movie he was planning to film. He gave me the script that night and I read it laughed all night until 2am! I called Dupeyron and asked if some parts wouldn’t be racially biased, and if he planned to shoot the movie with this script. When he said he would, I agreed right then to accept his offer.

You had a very attractive role in this film. Did you feel that it was written with you in mind?
I don’t know if it was written for me or not, but it was a great pleasure acting Sonia. I really felt she was a part of me. Dupeyron is one of my favorite directors and Yves Angelo’s camerawork is amazing. It was as if the camera was an independent role, as if an actor just like the one of us! That’s probably why it didn’t feel as if we were shooting a film. Sonia is not a complicated person, so I kept my acting simple. I wanted every mother watching this movie to be able to relate to Sonia. Initially, she was portrayed as a kind and gentle woman, but I told Dupeyron that her kindness felt fake and not humanlike. When a person is placed in the position to protect his or her children or standing, even a woman could be violent. The scene where a man is pulled out of a dryer expresses just this.

The movie takes place in the outskirts of Paris, but the imagery was far from what we visualize of France and Paris...
Have you seen Mathieu Kassovitz’s film, “HAINE”? The outskirts of Paris have long been home to the working class. Companies such as Renault built factories in these areas, constructed apartments and created employment for the immigrants of Paris. With the passing of time, this area became a closed and secluded community. The factories are now gone but the descendants of the immigrants have remained, creating a neighborhood just like the one portrayed
in this film. Yet, as Dupeyron said, this is not a movie about working class district in Paris; rather, it is about an average family living in this area. He was shocked by the reality that many elderly Caucasians neglected by their family and society live here. And that the only people who take care of them are the young immigrants from Northern Africa. This movie is about two strangers like Sonia and Robert meeting and learning to understand each other.

You have a different aura from Sonia...
I spent 6 months being Sonia. So on the last day, I shaved my hair off as a farewell to Sonia. It will grow back soon! But a shaved head feels smooth and nice!