CÉDRIC IDO

Di­rec­tor CÉDRIC IDO wanted to re­veal a less fa­mil­iar side to Paris in his por­trayal of a vi­brant im­mi­grant com­mu­nity, as he tells

France - - Contents - Pierre de Vil­liers

The film-maker re­veals why he wanted to show a less fa­mil­iar side to Parisian life.

When­ever Cédric Ido strolls out of the Château d’eau métro sta­tion in the 10th ar­rondisse­ment of Paris, he feels right at home. For an ac­tor/ di­rec­tor who was born in the French cap­i­tal and whose par­ents both hail from Burk­ina Faso, the neigh­bour­hood known for its large African com­mu­nity is a wel­com­ing place; here he gets his hair cut, hangs out with rel­a­tives, lis­tens to dance mu­sic from Africa, and soaks up a uniquely vi­brant at­mos­phere. It is an en­vi­ron­ment that, Ido be­lieves, is fast dis­ap­pear­ing be­cause of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion.

“In about five years, the Château d’eau I know will prob­a­bly be gone,” he says. “We have seen gen­tri­fi­ca­tion in other big cities and in other parts of Paris like Belleville and Château Rouge, and the same thing is hap­pen­ing in Château d’eau. Those who move in come look­ing for a cer­tain vi­brancy, but then change that very el­e­ment of the neigh­bour­hood. That trans­for­ma­tion is in­evitable.”

As the wave of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion started wash­ing over his favourite Parisian hang-out, it oc­curred to Ido that he needed to doc­u­ment the way Château d’eau looked and sounded now, before it changed for­ever. Team­ing up with friend and co-di­rec­tor Modi Barry

(who has a sim­i­lar pas­sion for the Parisian dis­trict), the film-maker poured his heart and soul into Chateau, his fea­ture-length di­rec­to­rial de­but that fo­cuses on the lives of those work­ing around the métro sta­tion.

Fol­low­ing the ef­forts of hus­tler Charles (played by Ido’s brother Jacky) to start his own busi­ness, the film takes au­di­ences on a jour­ney through lit­tle-seen parts of Paris, from sa­lons where stylists are as colour­ful as the ex­ten­sions and nails be­ing glued on, to small clubs throb­bing with mu­sic and dance.

“We wanted to show a dif­fer­ent side to Paris,” ex­plains Ido. “The city is not just about the fashion that we know and all the big brand names. There are neigh­bour­hoods such as Château d’eau which are im­por­tant; where dance mu­sic like coupé-dé­calé was in­vented and has gone all over the world. The peo­ple who live in these com­mu­ni­ties bring a lot to the city and I find that in­spi­ra­tional.”

With Ido and Barry work­ing on a shoestring bud­get and to a tight sched­ule, the shoot forced ev­ery­one to think on their feet. The di­rec­tors were not able to close any roads, so the pro­duc­tion sim­ply had to blend into the Château d’eau neigh­bour­hood, much to the be­muse­ment of the lo­cal com­mu­nity, many of whom fea­ture in the film.

“We talked to the lo­cals about shoot­ing in the area and they were ex­cited,” says Ido. “They wel­comed us warmly and then, after a while, they just didn’t care be­cause they had to get on with their own work. Hav­ing their ap­proval to shoot in the area was great, though, be­cause we wanted to show Château d’eau through the eyes of peo­ple who live there.”

A big part of the film’s suc­cess is the per­for­mance of Jacky Ido. With the sib­lings hav­ing col­lab­o­rated before on the award-win­ning short film Twagga (2013), the Ido broth­ers are clearly a po­tent com­bi­na­tion. “It’s a bit strange to work so closely with your sib­ling, who you know re­ally well, but we get over that pretty quickly,” says the di­rec­tor. “I know ex­actly what I want from him. He makes it easy be­cause some­times we don’t even need to talk. I can get across to him what I want with a sim­ple look.”

With im­mi­gra­tion to Europe a hot­but­ton topic at the mo­ment, some will see Chateau (en­ti­tled La Vie de Château in France) as a film that is try­ing to make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment. That, Ido in­sists, was not his in­ten­tion when he started. “This film is not po­lit­i­cal in an ac­tivist way,” he says. “If any­thing it’s like a doc­u­men­tary. We are sim­ply cap­tur­ing a mo­ment in time.”

The fact that Chateau was get­ting its UK pre­miere at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber means a wide au­di­ence will be in­tro­duced to the Château d’eau dis­trict. It is the sort of pro­mo­tion Ido hopes will re­sult in vis­i­tors to Paris stray­ing off the tourist trail.

“It would be fan­tas­tic if the film in­spires peo­ple to check out Château d’eau, visit its clubs and en­joy some­thing new in Paris,” the di­rec­tor says. “It’s one of the last neigh­bour­hoods that not only has a big African com­mu­nity but also peo­ple from In­dia, China and other parts of the world, all work­ing to­gether. It’s a fan­tas­tic mix of cul­tures that has to be ex­pe­ri­enced before it’s gone.”

The film takes au­di­ences on a jour­ney through lit­tle-seen parts of Paris, from hair sa­lons to small clubs throb­bing with mu­sic and dance

When di­rec­tors film in Paris, they tend to seek out Mont­martre, the Pont des Arts or another pop­u­lar tourist spot. Not so Cédric Ido and Modi Barry. Thrillingly, the film-mak­ing duo have cho­sen the less salu­bri­ous, work­ing­class area around the Château d’eau métro sta­tion for Chateau, a story about hus­tlers, hair­dos and ca­reer heart­break.

In a bustling neigh­bour­hood hous­ing a large im­mi­grant com­mu­nity, hair sa­lons use groups of fast-talk­ing young men to bring in busi­ness off the street. Lead­ing one such a team is Charles (Ido, brother of the di­rec­tor), who plans to open his own shop in the area. Also dream­ing big is Fa­tou (Rojo), whose bright idea for a new hair­style could be the key to a bet­ter life. Un­for­tu­nately for both, Château d’eau is teem­ing with op­por­tunists look­ing to make a quick buck once other peo­ple have done all the hard work.

Shot guerilla style (Ido and Barry were not able to close any streets), Chateau has a pace and en­ergy that is in­stantly ap­peal­ing. Feed­ing off the lais­sez-faire spirit of the pro­duc­tion, cast members pro­duce won­der­fully nat­u­ral per­for­mances, with Ido per­fect as the quiet, moral cen­tre of the film. If the ac­tor is all ice, then Rojo is rag­ing fire, show­ing in one scene that she can punch her way out of a predica­ment.

With many French films re­leased in the UK show­ing the City of Light through rose-tinted glasses, Chateau is a re­fresh­ing dose of re­al­ity – a rel­e­vant, touch­ing homage to a multi-cul­tural me­trop­o­lis and its re­silient res­i­dents.

ABOVE: Cast members in the Château d’eau dis­trict of Paris; BE­LOW: Ac­tress Ta­tiana Rojo in a scene from Chateau; FAC­ING PAGE: Di­rec­tor Cédric Ido on set

Chateau is be­ing screened at the Lon­don Film Fes­ti­val on 8, 10 and 13 Oc­to­ber (what­son.bfi.org.uk). See Pierre’s re­view on page 92.

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