Leïla Kilani, a Tangierian at Cannes

CINEMA Director Leïla Kilani presented her first fiction film, Sur la Place, at the Directors’ Fortnight, a parellel selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

Made in Tanger: What place does Tangier hold in your life?
Leïla Kilani:
I’m originally from Tangier, even if I was born in Casa, so there was no meeting, just something in my skin.

It’s a city with a romantic spirit and an extremely violent soul, inseparable from my relationship to things. I’m very taken by this city, it’s imagination, auto-modifications, who built a sort of symbol, and everything hovers over us when we’re in Tangier.

Made in Tanger: How did you decide to film the city?
Leïla Kilani:
I showed very few places, and they’re rather abstract. The film’s theme focuses on four girls going through a transition, in a city in transition. But finally, the set was recreated for the most part, like the key decor, the shrimp factory, what we didn’t film in Tangier. It’s a city that’s felt rather than truly represented. There are very few long shots on the old port, the city’s is rather a perception of sound, especially with a subjective relationship and internalized by key players.

Made in Tanger: You’ve already directed several documentaries in the city. How was it to transition into a drama for Sur la Planche?
Leïla Kilani:
I didn’t feel like I was taking the plunge. It’s a film that I wrote differently, but for me it’s always the same approach, it’s a quiet continuation. That idea’s outdated. There isn’t an insurmountable distance between the two styles and today, the majority of directors circle from one genre to another with feeling like they are distinct or inseparable professions.

Made in Tanger: What hopes do you have for the Cannes Film Festival?
Leila Kilani:
That my film will touch some people, it’s already a relief for me, that a handful of people have believed in it from the beginning. You know that the film exists, it’s already an amazing thing, then it’s screened at Cannes, it’s like walking on the moon. I’m not planning anything, I am just anxious for the first screening, but it would be the same elsewhere. I just finished the post-production, we fixed the technical difficulties at the last minute, so anxiety is inevitable, like for all first screenings. Except that this film’s opening at Cannes.

Interview Mathias Chaillot
Photo DR
Translation Mandy Sinclair