Why the ‘Happening’ director didn’t want the abortion drama to feel like a historical work

From “Call Jane” to “The Janes,” this year’s Sundance lineup is shining a light on reproductive rights, reflecting a national time in which the right to choose is increasingly under attack.

With “Happening” (“L’evenement”), writer and director Audrey Diwan added an international dimension to the conversation. Based on the novel by Annie Ernaux, the film explores how anti-choice policies manifest on a deeply personal level.

The film revolves around Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), a bright young student living in 1960s France, where abortion is strictly prohibited. When she finds out she’s pregnant, she has to make a series of tough choices to stay out of society and keep going to school.

“When I discovered the book, right after abortion, and I realized there was a huge gap between this legalized, medicalized process and illegal abortion,” Diwan told Sharon Waxman at Sundance studios. virtual by TheWrap.

“I thought I knew what it was, but I didn’t. The way the reality was more difficult and complicated and the loneliness of the character moved me.”

Although the story is about a situation faced by a lot of people living under anti-choice governments, Diwan knew from the start that she wanted to take a personal approach.

She explained: “I decided that I would not just do a piece on illegal abortion but would talk more about this particular character, how she wanted to be free, how she wanted to have sexual pleasure education and do some research.

Anamaria star Vartolomei noted that the many injustices her character had to endure boosted her performance. “I felt the reality was so violent that it nurtured a certain anger in me,” she said. “I put myself in the shoes of the young woman who still exists today because it still is [the reality] in some countries [and] The states.”

Diwan added: “When I started writing the script, people in France would say to me, ‘Why do you want to do it now?’

Diwan was on her way to the Venice Film Festival, where “Happening” premiered, when she learned that a law had been introduced into the Polish parliament recommending abortion be declared murder with criminal punishment for with women seeking an abortion at any stage.

With the issue of reproductive rights making headlines around the world, Diwan approached the film as an “intimate thriller,” rather than a period drama.

“There is always a place in the world where the law is always changing, and not for the better,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to make a historical drama, but one where you can really feel what’s happening from the next second and live it as if you were in the 60s. , now, considering the reality of the world we’re in, it’s always the same problem in some way. “

TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is presented by NFP and National Geographic Documentary Films.

https://www.thewrap.com/happening-sundance-interview/ Why the ‘Happening’ director didn’t want the abortion drama to feel like a historical work

Curtis Crabtree

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