Tuesday 1 May 2018

Interview with Jérémie Battaglia – director of “Perfect”

Filmmaker Jérémie Battaglia follows the Canadian synchronized swimming team as it trains for the Olympics with PERFECT, now available on VOD.

How would you describe synchronized swimming?

Synchro is without a doubt one of the toughest sports in the world.
It's a mix between a 400m sprint, swimming and ballet. It's hell on earth. But always with a smile!

Is it fair to say that it’s not the slow, stress-free sport some might perceive it to be?

Definitely! It's one of the sports that has the most concussion with hockey. We are far from the sports image of "little girl" and sexist clichés. It's a very hard, intense sport. But very unknown to the general public.

What kind of person becomes a synchronized swimmer? Noticed any trends?

 This is partly the subject of the film. It is a judged sport, so the body of the athletes becomes more and more a criterion. At the moment fashion is with very thin bodies, long ballet legs, small torsos. This kind of body accentuates the optical effects that this sport seeks.

But unfortunately many young girls do not fit that and of course they don’t know that when they start and they still dream of becoming swimmers. That's why some young women have eating disorders: they hope to reach bodies they can never have. It is very unfair and sad.

Did you develop a friendship with the women during the movie and keep in touch?

Oh yes! Everything they go through  in the film, I did too. I cried, laughed and fought with them! I was (I am!) their number one fan. It brings you a lot closer. I regularly see Claudia and Marie-Lou.
The beauty in documentary is having this chance to live someone else's life during the filming time.

That's what I like most about my job. Enter their lives, share these experiences and see the world through their eyes: This is the most beautiful way to get closer to another human being.

Were the women all confident to participate or did they need some encouragement?

It depended on the swimmers but most yes. Some were shy at first, but very quickly I felt adopted. It was important for me to show them that I was here with her, that I wanted to show the reality of their sport and somewhere to do them justice. I tried to involve them as much as possible in the various stages of production to explain to them at best what I was doing. All this helped a lot in their desire to participate.

Is there anything they wouldn’t let you film?

Strangely, no! I had access to everything without any restrictions. I was very lucky that they trust me that much!

What’s next for you?

I'm working on my next documentary film, a short film this time. The title is The Brother. It’s the story of a french moroccan family living in France. Fehd, the eldest of the Karouani family, is a bodybuilder and former professional wrestler. Kaïs, the youngest, lives with Duchenne myopathy, a degenerative disease causing the loss of all the muscles of the body. As Fehd builds an always more muscular body, Kais gradually loses its use.

It’s a unique story, I was really lucky once again to meet them and that they trusted me with their story to make this documentary. It will be a mix between video and 2d animation!

PERFECT is now on VOD.