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CULTURE | 15-02-2022 14:18

Spanish film explores trauma of 2015 Bataclan massacre

Argentine actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and French actress Noémie Merlant star in 'One Year, One Night,' as a young couple who survive the Bataclan concert hall attack but struggle to piece their lives back together in the aftermath.

A Spanish film about the aftermath of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris premiered at the Berlin film festival on Monday, with the actors confessing it was "hard" to relive the trauma.

One Year, One Night, directed by Isaki Lacuesta, is one of 18 contenders for the Golden Bear top prize at the 72nd Berlin film festival.

The movie stars Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Noémie Merlant as Ramón and Celine, a young couple who survive the attack but struggle to piece their lives back together.

Ramón wants to talk about what happened and write everything down, while Celine wants to forget and copes by immersing herself in her job as a social worker.

From the morning after the attack when Celine coolly opens her laptop to order groceries while Ramón lies in bed, it's clear the two characters represent very different ways of dealing with trauma.

Producer Ramón Campos said Monday he was inspired to make the film after being in Paris on the night of the deadly Bataclan attack.

 

'Emotionally charged'

"I found myself wandering alone around the city, in the streets, there was silence, there was distrust between people, and that made an impression on me," he said.

He later read a book called Peace, Love and Death Metal by Ramón González, a Spanish man who was at the Bataclan with his girlfriend and other friends on the night of the attacks.

The real Ramón and Celine were involved in the making of the film, an experience that was "particularly emotionally charged," according to director Lacuesta.

They had "lived through this experience in a totally different way" but agreed about one thing, he said: "They wanted to avoid the word 'survivors' because they wanted to live, not just survive."  

For Argentine actor Pérez, 35, it was "hard" to immerse himself in such a traumatic story. "My body was full of emotions and sensations that were very complex," he said.

French actress Merlant, 33, also spoke about the physical toll of making the film and the "back and forth" of drawing on her own experiences to render her character.

Merlant, who was in Paris on the night of the "horrific" attack, said it was "important" to represent different ways of processing trauma.

 

Learning to live

"Some people need to talk, to share in order to move forward in life and there are others who don't want to... There are no answers," she said.

The film intersperses flashbacks of what happened on the night with scenes from the present as Ramón and Celine career through changing friendships and doubts about their own relationship.

Director Lacuesta said this structure was chosen partly to avoid focusing on the gory details of the attack. "We felt that would have been a betrayal of the people who were there," he said.

Instead, he wanted to highlight "the part that we had never seen before, how they try to learn to live again and above all how they try not to give up sex, love and rock and roll".

The attack on the Bataclan was part of a wave of shootings and bomb attacks in the French capital on the night of November 13, 2015 by gunmen who claimed 130 lives. 

Twenty defendants are on trial over the massacre in France, including the only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, with the verdict expected in May.

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by Femke Colborne, AFP

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