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French director Kim Chapiron dissects US juvenile prison system

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-25

A winner at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, French filmmaker Kim Chapiron’s Dog Pound uses a fictional correctional center to take a cold, hard look at the real American juvenile prison system. France24.com caught up with the director in Paris.

France24.com: What is the moral or message of the film, if any?

Kim Chapiron: I don’t like films that tell me what to think. I don’t try to tell people what they’re supposed to think at the end of the movie. More than a message or a moral, [my film] is a sharing of an emotion and a testimony. It’s the daily life of three young people. The film is more about stating a fact of life than giving a precise message. It’s up to the viewer to draw his or her own conclusion.

F24: The film seems like it must have required meticulous preparation. Was there anything that ended up in the movie that was not planned in advance?

KC: We had this determination to look for actors who best fit the characters. The actor who plays the guard that roughs up Butch, the main character, at the beginning of the film needed to look very tough. I was with my team, wandering around from bar to bar in this run-down city, New Brunswick, looking for these characters. We stumbled upon this Hell’s Angels rocker bar, and spotted this guy who looked terrifying, like he wanted to beat up my chief cameraman. We went up to him and asked him, “Sir, would you like to be in a movie?” The next day, he was with us on set, and he’s the guy who plays the guard. And he had a great time. I couldn’t have asked for a fresher actor. That was the dynamic of the casting process.

F24: Childhood and adolescence seem to be important themes in your work. Will your next project deal with these themes, too?

KC: There will always be an ambassador or representative from this period of one’s life, which I find really powerful. But the next film will be a love story that I’m in the process of co-writing with [French actor] Vincent Cassel, about a couple that falls apart and comes back together amid the craziness of Carnival in Rio.

Date created : 2010-06-23

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