Nadège Trebal has just introduced herself to the fiction industry with a steamy hot drama about an unemployed scammer who goes out into the world to earn exactly 12,000 euros and win back his pride and wife.
WEEKEND: You have a documentary background with “Bleu pétrole” and “Scrap Yard”. How did you decide to enter the fiction scene with a film like “Twelve Thousand”? What was your inspiration?
I wanted to make up for it through the fiction of so many impossibilities, of so many things that I had not been able to film, during my documentary meetings. All these men shaken from all over the world, in pain of love, locked out, defeated from their home. They inspired me Frank, a modern Ulysses who tells them all.
Both “Bleu pétrole” and “Scrap Yard” centers around men working at the bottom of the industry: one working in an oil refinery, the other at a scrapyard. In “Twelve Thousand” you have recreated this type of man with Frank, but in a fictionalised form. What is it that fascinates you about these men?
These are men who can only count on themselves. Without a net, without any capital other than their labour‐power, their courage, their intelligence, their charm. This way of going into life with bare hands, catapulted from place to place, here and there. Their ordinary épics speak to me of the human condition, since the dawn of time.
You play the role of Maroussia, the woman married to Frank. Why did you decide to take this challenge for your feature film debut?
It’s a combination of circumstances in the end, of chance, of accidents, that gradually revealed to me that I was going to do it from the beginning. To cross the line of sight, and tell the story from the inside, body and soul.
In “Twelve Thousand”, Frank finds himself financially inferior to his wife and decides to set out on a journey to earn the exact same amount of money as her. How would you relate this story to women empowerment and gender equality?
It has never been my will to give a speech on gender parity, but to carry the poetry of this violent power relationship. I wanted to monetize their oath, that their love be felt, proved by action, rather than by grand statements of their feelings. Tell the price of their promise. Twelve thousand in all letters. Look at the couple as a small business, as a contract that happens between lovers, materially, and that is sold here by money.
“It has never been my will to give a speech on gender parity, but to carry the poetry of this violent power relationship.”
Desire, sex and money seem to be the key topics of the film. What is the connection you find between these elements? And what does the film say about liberalism and capitalism?
The brutality of capitalism, its savagery reaches us in our deepest intimacy, it devours lives, besieges us, to contaminate our loving language. It is this shift, from one now globalized economy to another, domestic, in each of us, that inspires me. Money flows between them, as the unit of measure of their feelings, it allows Frank to repair the image he has of himself, to love himself again, its first injury being to have no place in the world.
“The brutality of capitalism, its savagery reaches us in our deepest intimacy, it devours lives, besieges us, to contaminate our loving language.”
The film is set in a realistic working class environment but it also contains unexpected elements of dance that runs throughout the story. From choreographed dances between Frank and Maroussia to a scene with a gang of women rubbing the containers where Frank works as a security guard. What are your thoughts behind this?
Through all these physical scenes, dance, robbery, love, it is the bodies that I wanted to film in their states, in all their power. This way of investing the world, of changing it, of getting rid of it. These scenes move the film, lift it from the ground, renew it. The epic of Frank forks while, on another side, it drifts towards a fantasy path.
What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
I’m writing a kind of love war movie, but I also dream especially to take back the documentary, in the form of a proletarian and European road movie.