Farid Ismail (Entre palabras) «For me, this short was somewhat cathartic»

Last Monday, April 24, we screened the second session of short films in the official section at RADIO CITY. A somewhat special session, since, among the selection of programmed short films, we have the premiere of the film “Entre Les Mots”, in spanish “Entre Palabras”, Directed by Farid Alexandre Ismail.

Produced in Luxembourg, the film tells the story of Federico, a young law student who must pass his oral presentation for his final exam, which is done online. Blocked by his persistent stuttering, Federico will try to resort to various solutions to get rid of it…

Certified and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Cinema at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Farid describes “Entre Palabras” as his most personal work. Expressing himself more with images than words, for 15 years he has made more than ten independent short films with a style somewhere between dramatic and satirical comedy. Seeking to know more about his film, Farid facilitated an interview in Spanish, answering all our questions and bringing us closer to the production of his film.

We spoke with Farid Ismail

Did you know about the International Short Film Festival? What made you participate in it?
Farid: I got to know the Festival through the FESTHOME platform. And I participated in this Festival because it seemed original to me that a Festival called RADIO CITY makes visuals and presents short films. I thought it was just Audio! I also have a good friend who lives near Valencia and who supported me in doing the Spanish translation of the film, her name is Caterine Nieto Caucali.

It is the first time that “Entre Palabras” has been projected to the public, what do you feel about it?
F: Yeah! Well, it’s the first time it’s been screened in Valencia! It’s great that the Spanish public can see my short film. We are neighbors of Europe!

In the description of your film, you say that it is your most personal work. How has the production and subsequent completion of the film been?
F: It takes a long time to make a movie from production to completion. And I think that when a story is personal, you feel more motivated and motivated, and you know why you do it. In the end, you see that it was worth spending all this time making this film… During filming, in one scene, I shed tears during actor Jonathan Bartholme’s performance. I think this was the most beautiful, because it comes from the personal, because I am a stutterer.

Farid Alexandre Ismail, director of “Entre Palabras”

The lead actor, Jonathan Bartholme, does a sensational acting job, especially at the facial level. How did you work on it throughout the shoot?
F: We spent two months working on stuttering, watching documentaries, meeting other stutterers, working on diction, lyrics, sentences… I wanted that in the end, we see a real stutterer and not someone trying to stutter.

Both in “Entre Palabras” and in another of your previous films, “The Mammy”, you incorporate a comic component into the film. How do you manage this management between the dramatic and the comedy?
F: I’ve always liked mixing comedy with drama… I think life is like that, made of sad and happy things. I like comedy in the cinema because I love to hear a room laugh, and drama because I like to give deep emotions and reflect. And I think that combining the two is something beautiful but difficult… But it is a challenge that I like if it is well balanced, because they are emotions that spin like a roller coaster.

Where did the idea for the short film come from? How is your creative process?
F: I have always seen the stutterer as something cinematic. Because when it can’t be expressed through the voice, it is expressed through the visual… So I’ve had this idea for many years now, more because I’ve lived it. But the most difficult I think was to concretize it in writing and produce it…

Do you rely on or seek influences from aspects of your daily life or do you prefer to seek information from external elements?
F: Most of the influences are inspired by real events. Being a stutterer, I have had quite a few experiences with this in my everyday life. But it’s important to fictionalize it because I don’t want it to be all real, there’s also a bit of a fantastic part in the short, like when he pushes the letters. Is a
way to personify the stutterer.

What aspects of the film would you like the audience to keep?
F: The public interprets the film as they want… But, for me, it would be good for the public to have reflections, emotions and fantasy… For me, this short was something cathartic to do. Because when I finally finished making the short, I said to myself: «Finally! Now everyone knows what it feels like to be a stutterer on a daily basis! You will suffer no more from this difference!”

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