Louise Archambault writes and directs the film “And the Birds Rained Down” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie is based on the novel by Jocelyne Saucier which depicts a small group of older people whose lives are interrupted by the addition of Marie-Desneige (Andrée Lachapelle); a woman with her own sad yet lovely tale as she gets a second chance at life and love. Gorgeously shot, this film beautifully grapples with the inevitable while focusing upon our intrinsic hopes and dreams. I had a chance to catch up with Archambault to discuss the making of this thoughtfully poignant story of love and life. (English is Archambault’s second language and care was taken to edit appropriately without taking away the charm of her use of language.)
PAMELA POWELL: Why this script? Was it personal?
LOUISE ARCHAMBAULT: The film is based on the novel so I was drawn to that story and that schematic and those characters. I saw it was not about age, actually. That’s funny, eh? For sure, yeah, those characters were 70, 75, 80 years old, but I saw those characters with a backstory and at some point in their life they meet. It’s a nod to life and to love. It’s about love and liberty, as well. Freedom. If you see an intimacy between two characters who are 80 years old, you see it differently. I hope that people open up, that whatever the age, what you see most is desire. We want to love and be loved and we want to have our own dignity.
POWELL: You have two parallel love stories going on; one young and one old. Was that in the book as well or your own addition?
ARCHAMBAULT: No, I added that. In the book, the photographer’s character is older and she doesn’t get emotional. We don’t travel into her emotional path. I liked the idea that you have all those arcs, the character’s arcs; that love is thread in their arc in a different way. For example, Boichok, he removed himself from life, from society and to love was difficult. He didn’t know how to love anymore and he didn’t know how to choose so it was easier to escape. And Marie-Desneigne, it was the opposite. Society stopped her and she could not live like she wanted to or have her freedom and express herself, to maybe feel love and be loved and at some point in her life. She has the intent to taste it. And for the youngsters, I like the idea that they have the photographer character. She’s really drawn in to that boichok story because she relates. She doesn’t know how to let go and be in the present moment of what’s happening now. She protects herself and, why? We don’t know. She has her own backstory and probably she doesn’t know how to love.
POWELL: Did you have any hurdles in making this film?
ARCHAMBAULT: It’s always a challenge to make a film as you know, it’s quite a gamble. For me, when I read the novel, the story was bigger than me. The core of human nature is quite universal and I wanted to share that with others. It’s openness to the differences and the ability to open up to exchanges of day-to-day life. We are so lucky. Just enjoy. And happiness is not 24 hours a day. It’s clips, a moment, a smile, but we forget how to enjoy those moments.
POWELL: The setting is extraordinary! I want to go and hike and camp there. Where is it?
ARCHAMBAULT: It’s a character by itself. It’s shot in the Boreal Forest, in northern Quebec. It’s quite a beautiful area. We built those cabins. It was quite an adventure for us and our characters. While shooting, we didn’t have any electricity or running water. We had porcupines at night eating our set! Literally! We had to be careful not to step on all those moose poops! (Laughs) It was a real immersion. I didn’t want it to rain and it rained. After that, when you’re editing, it’s quite poetic.
POWELL: What conversation do you hope viewers will have about the film after seeing it?
ARCHAMBAULT: I want to give hope to the future, hope to themselves, and afterwards if they can fulfill their lives with hope and love. It’s not perfect. Life is not perfect, but it can be damn good if you open up.
I want to give hope to the future, hope to themselves, and afterwards if they can fulfill their lives with hope and love. It’s not perfect. Life is not perfect, but it can be damn good if you open up.