With “Allons enfants”, the dreams and wounds of a group of young high school students

That they document the dismal daily life of porn star Rocco Siffredi (Rocco, 2016), capture the fervor of Catholic pilgrims (heavy, 2019) or the discipline of the dancers of the Paris Opera (Succession: story of a creation, 2017), Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai apply an effective recipe to their subjects, which combines the rigor of real cinema with an acute sense of dramaturgy.

For their new movie, Come on children released on April 13, the two filmmakers followed for a year a class at the Lycée Turgot, in Paris, which welcomes young dancers who have failed at school as part of a planned schedule where hip-hop and traditional education are associated. “When Elsa Lepeutrec, the screenwriter of the film, told us about this initiative, we immediately thought it was the ideal setting to portray a generation”, they explain.

As usual, the duo (Demaizière directs and conducts the interviews, Teurlai is co-director, editor and cinematographer) commits to the project without writing anything. Because you really need a synopsis to get funding, they call on Elsa Lepeutrec, who writes an imaginary version of the potential film, knowing that there are “little chance of turning what is written”.

Four months of editing

For Come on children as with their other films, the real writing is done in editing, once the shooting is finished. To draw a frame from the one hundred and fifty hours of rushes accumulated between September and June 2018 and 2019, the directors spent four months side by side in the editing room.

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Allowed to film class councils, they found themselves with material so dense that cutting suddenly felt like “to do hara-kiri”. They ended up with a first version that lasted between two and a half and three hours. Built mainly around sound, it constituted the narrative skeleton of the film. “The sound structure gives the meaning of the film, they explain. At that time, the image does not matter. »

Concern for rhythm

Alone at the controls for the second part of the editing, Alban Teurlai then ” dressed ” the plot: “I insert dance images, I clip, I spread, I place breaths…”, he said. With a constant concern for rhythm. To do this, they have intertwined collective scenes, where the students engage in dance battles, interviews, where they tell their stories in the privacy of their rooms, the tension of the outcome (will the students win the French hip dance championship? -hop at the end of the year?) and dramaturgy of high school life.

At the end of the process, which lasted several months, Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai showed the result to the filmmaker Stéphane Brizé, an outside eye allowing “break their camera”, explains Demaizière. “Stéphane is our first spectator. He is ruthless and generous. It takes us forward in one leap, each time giving us a vision that allows us to finalize the work together. »

A few weeks later, the film is finally ready. touching and funny, Let’s go children delivers on its promise to portray the dreams, talents and hurts of a band of high school kids on their way to adulthood.

Come on children (1h54), by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai. In theaters since April 13.

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