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Taboo-breaking com Uneasy Riders has ha worldwide audiences howling with laughter. Filmmaker JEAN- I PIERRE SINAPI tells The list why it’s good to
' laugh at diSability.
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sex, disabilty and vitieot
he origins of Uneasy Riders (Nutionrde 7). Jean-Pierre Sinapi's vibrant. multiple award-winning disability comedy. lie in the experiences of two real—life individuals.
‘()ne ol’ my sisters. Julie. works as a carer for
disabled people in an institution in the South of France near Toulon on the Nationale 7 route.‘ says the l‘ortysomething first time filmmaker via his interpreter. ‘I spent some time with my sister in this institution. including Christmas and New Year‘s live. On one of' my visits I asked my sister whether disabled people had sexual desires. She said. “Yes. of course. They are like you and me. they have the same desire to have love affairs." She told me a story that happened to her three years earlier. when a disabled man in his early l‘il'ties was brave enough to express that he wanted to make love to a woman. and he asked her to help him with it.‘
This is the basis for Uneasy Riders. Moreover. the film's central character. Rene (played by Belgian actor ()livier Gourmet). was based on the militant trade unionist who twelve years earlier had helped Sinapi write his first television screenplay. ‘l consulted him when I was researching about workers and unions.’ says Sinapi. ‘At the same time this guy contracted a muscular degenerative disease — he had to start walking
with canes and he ended up in a wheelchair
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and eventually died. He was the lirst element ol‘ my script.‘
Funding for the project came from the l’rench television channel Arte. which stipulated that Uneasy Riders be filmed on lightweight digital video cameras. Having no experience with this new technology. Sinapi
decided to hire Jean-Paul Meurisse. director of
photography on Lars von Trier‘s Breaking The
Waves. ‘We only had ten people in the Uneasy
Riders crew.’ explains Sinapi. ‘The advantage with the DV cameras is that you don‘t waste any time. All the time on the set is spent shooting and working on the direction. Normally. you have to spend time waiting while you light the scene — here we just had two lights.‘
pm”), because (,1- ‘lt’s more respectful towards disabled people to laugh at them rather than be politically correct and very boring’
the l'ilm's back-to- basics style and partly because of its provocative subject matter. some have compared Uneasy Riders to Dogme films like l’esien and The Idiots. Sinapi. though. certainly doesn't regard himself as a Gallic cousin to Dogme‘s merry Scandinavian pranksters. ‘l)ogme is about rules which have to be totally respected. and i am the complete opposite.‘ he points out. ‘I love Fesien and the cinema ol' Lars von Trier. but I think the Dogme movement is a big
Lights, camera, action . . . GLASGOW HAS SCOPED bigtime. seCuring the high profile international Symposium on film and music. School Of SOLind. which runs 4—? April at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The impressive guest speaker list includes such big names as Carter Burwell and Mychael Danna (respectively. the Coen brothers and Atom Egoyan‘s composers of choice) along
26 THE LIST 29 Mar—12 Apr 2000
with filmmaker legend Nic Roeg. There's also a series of tie-in events at the (Bl-T Glasgow from 5 April. See Film Index and City Life.
‘AH'LL BEE BAACK’ threatened Arnold Schwarzenegger in the classic 80s science fiction thriller Terminator. He’s made good on his threat with the re-issue of that film (selected release from Friday 6 April), which heralds the arrival of Terminator 3, currently in
pre-production, though somewhat overshadowed by accusations against Arnie of sexual harassment. Edinburgh Filmhouse is also screening a sci-fi season with guest speakers starting Sunday 8 April, to tie in with the Science Festival. See Film Index. HAPPILY. DESPITE THE LIST'S recent rant about state film cenSOrship, four controversial new films will be released in the UK: Amores Perros. on 18 May without
Sinapi wondered whether disabled
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publicity stunt to make people more aware of the lilms the directors were making.‘
Nevertheless. like the Dogme lilms (’neusy Riders tackles one ol' society"s taboos the sexualin ol' the physically handicapped yet it does so with wry humour and without resorting to problem movie’ inelodrainatics. ‘l)ue to the nature ol. the subject. which is very hard. intense and harrowing. the only way to treat it is to bring humour to it.‘ says Sinapi. 'Il' I had made a completely serious film. it would have been hard for people to take. It's more respectful towards disabled people to be able to laugh with them and laugh at them rather than doing something very grandiloquent. and very politically correct and very boring.
‘As a spectator I want you. like the characters. to lollow a journey.~ he adds. "The first l‘il‘teen minutes a re h a rd and harrowing — you are put in the world of disabled people. There is no real introduction. you are just straight into the story. Little by little you care about the characters. and you forget their condition. The comedy intensilies and you end up in a l‘able.’
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 30 Mar. See review, page 28
Cuts despite the RSPC/x's concern over the film's (staged; dog—fighting scenes; Battle Roya/e. a iiolent riff on Lord Of The Flies that's panicked the Japanese gO‘v/ernment into calling for a ban: and Fat Glfi. Catherine Breillat's follow—up to Romance. which caused (Mir; a stir at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year. Finally, the French revenge thriller. Ba/se—ri'irii (Rape Mei has been cleared after a ten—second penetration shot was axed.