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Torino adaptLab

Adaptlab was created 3 years ago, a module of Torinofilmlab, the biggest and most creative film laboratory in Europe. Adaptlab is the fruit of a partnership between the Turin International Book Fair and Initiative Film in Paris. Isabelle Fauvel – the founder-director of Initiative Film - is responsible for the training it dispenses.

 

6 adaptation projects by film-makers and scenarists, rights-holders of the work concerned, are developed at Adaptlab, as well as 6 works not yet under option presented by their publishers or selected by partners of the operation and commissioned to European scenarists. At the conclusion of a cycle, which consists of 3 workshops in different European towns and takes place over one year, all the projects are pitched at the Torinofilmlab in front of an audience of 150 professionals working in the film world. Since the beginnings of Torino Adaptlab, 4 works have been optioned after this procedure.

 

Every year, a French book is presented to this unique programme, thanks to the support of publishers and rights holders who cooperate by holding the film rights throughout the year of workshops.

 

In 2012, the French book presented was Palermo Solo by Philippe Fusaro (Editions La fosse aux ours), adapted by Laetitia Ricklin, a Belgian scenarist.

In 2013,  Bienvenue à Goma by Isabelle Collombat (Editions du Rouergue), adapted by the author.

In 2014, Le mur, le kabyle et le marin by Antonin Varenne, (Editions Viviane Hamy), adapted under the title Loser's Corner by Yinon Shomroni, Israeli scenarist.

 

How do you succeed in getting into the minds of characters, supposedly distant from your culture, your history and even your generation?

Yinon Shomroni: When you attempt to write, to create a character, the historical or cultural contexts must be taken into account; but beyond that, the challenge is above all to find a personal and emotional link with the character, to understand their specific challenges, what drives them and their actions.

Very early in the process, I searched for a theme that could ‘encompass’ all my characters, or at least I tried to answer this question: Here we have a middle-aged policeman who practices boxing, what’s he doing in the same film as a 20-year-old soldier, a guard in a torture camp in the middle of the Algerian war? 

Then I realised that what these people have in common is that they are both very introverted men who find themselves thrust into very violent situations. They try to accept the fact that the only principle guiding their actions has become their own survival.

As an Israeli citizen, I was called up, and I served the mandatory three years in the Israel Defence Forces. I had my share of checkpoints, occupied territories, patrols and refugee camps, so I could identify with the feelings of my characters.

I know what it’s like to feel disoriented and helpless in extreme situations, and that has given me an emotional anchor.

It’s always possible to understand a given History or culture by doing a little research. But what drives the protagonists emotionally and intellectually is something that transcends nationality, religion, ‘race’ and culture.

 

How did you approach the task of adapting the subject?

Yinon Shomroni : The obvious answer to that is by doing research, lots of research.

It begins with the book, because in the chapters that refer to the past, there was a lot of information that was new to me incorporated into the text.

I read, saw and listened to everything I could find on the subject, from Wikipedia to old documentaries, as well as articles on the trial of General Ausaresses. Algeria, like France, has a rich history; and even if I can’t become an expert in a day, my aim was to make my vision as wide as possible and to attempt to find more echoes of my own experience, in order to sharpen my viewpoint as an author.

Something very interesting took place when, in the end, I found an article which compared the Franco-Algerian conflict with the situation in the Middle East, between Israelis and Palestinians. That added a personal dimension to my work.

 

 

How did you decide to unfold your narrative, in order to treat the violence of war?

Yinon Shomroni : As an author, I try to avoid falling into too much ‘affect’, becoming too ‘sentimental’, in order to keep the dilemmas facing the characters, and the choices they have to make, as realistic as possible. In fact, for this adaptation project, my objective was to let the public see where the protagonists’ choices lead them, and to define the limits of their morality.

I did not want to put the accent on the characters’ emotional engagement: the war they are living through is a silent one, in the shadows, with neither tanks nor aircraft. Violence is ‘in the air’ but it doesn’t really explode.

My goal was to reach a balance between psychological equilibrium and real violence, to sketch the most complete portrait possible from the compelling viewpoint of young people at war.


Isabelle Fauvel  -  Nov 2014