Maxence Stamatiadis graduated in 2012 from École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. He directed first short film – Kymco was directed in 2017 and in the same year he released the short film Période killer. Purina No. 1 was released the following year, while Shiver of Love was shown in 2019.
The day today (Au jour d’Aujord hui) is his debut film, which had its world premiere at this year’s IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam). This documentary contains the private life of the author, shown through the characters of his grandmother – Suzanne and grandfather – Edouard.
The first half of the movie is set in 2013, it includes lots of screens, from mobile phones to tablets, and that’s the part where both Suzanne and Edouard are alive.
The second part takes place in 2024, when Edouard has already passed away, and shows Suzanne, who had been left alone, as she comes across an app which can bring back the dead with a “replacement”.
How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
“At first it was not meant to be this movie, it was meant to be another movie. It started with the text my grandfather was writing, about murders and killing people, and the movie started like that. We would make a documentary about his life, reenact his daily frustrations and stage his fantasies about killing people. That’s how the movie started, but then quickly after we started shooting my grandfather died, and so I had no way of finishing the movie.
I kept on filming my grandmother – we did some movies together. And then 2 years ago I realised I had all these rushes from them that I had been filming for 5, 6, 7 years now, and I started thinking of writing a new story out of this – a story where I could bring my grandfather back and that’s how the movie started.
I took all the rushes that I had, and edited it, put FX in it, until I found this construction for the movie. And then there was this app that allows my grandmother to bring dead people back, so that was the thing I needed to tell the story and that’s how it came to be.”
From where do you get inspiration for your films and what do you think about the comments you get?
“I think I can only do good things with personal stories. That’s how I work. I mean my main material has to come from something deep and intimate. I couldn’t make movies any other way.
Not every movie I make will have a personal touch from my family’s story, but with this movie I think I finally closed a family thing I had to finish. So now I can go beyond and talk about things that are further from me, but I’ll always have to draw from something very personal and intimate, that’s the main goal.
I think every comment about a movie is a good comment. If people watch my movie and have something to say about it, even if it’s not good – to me it’s good enough. I don’t think movies are made to be liked, they’re meant to do something to people – even if it’s bad, even if it’s good.”
The future you portrayed in the movie, is that perhaps the one you see when you think about it?
“This is not the future actually, it’s the present. The present and the future are kind of the same. We already live in the future, we have iPhones, we can google crazy stuff, I could film you and put another face on it and then we would go on our electric bikes. We already live in the future, but the future we live in is kind of disappointing. Nothing works very well, we don’t do cool stuff, we don’t go to other planets, we don’t have flying cars.
I’m not afraid of the future, I’m already disappointed in the present. “
After everything that happened during the making of the movie, did your parents support you in your decision to finish it anyway?
“My parents, my mother and father they were supportive. This is my mom’s parents, my mom was always supportive – she was just jealous ‘cause she was not playing in the movie, that’s her thing.
But then, my grandmother, she was the main question, would she want to do that – and she was willing to do it.
Also, we got to spend a lot of time together, we got to mourn together while making this movie and talking about him, like all the conversations we had. It’s like a digital way of grieving somebody who isn’t alive – so we grieved together.”
Although this movie, The day today, is partly science fiction, it talks about a recognizable theme – “it’s better than nothing”. Like photos and videos of the dead are better than nothing.
Source: Beldocs, IFFR
Photo source: screenshot / youtube
Avatar source: Maxence Stamatiadis