The Big Issue : Edition 565
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 29 JUN–12 JUL 2018 33 work – a matter that becomes more urgent when Milla falls pregnant, and then is tragically left to raise her child on her own. And yet Milla rings with laughter. The film demands immense respect for Jonckeere, whose own son Ethan also appears. “It has to give. If a film wasn’t able to bring something to the person I’m doing it with then it would be a failure for me,” says Massadian, when I ask about her motivations. “The point is not just making a film, because then I can film whatever – trees, nature, I’m good at that too,” she laughs. “But if you make a film with people, it has to be something circular or organic that everybody feeds on. “[Jonckeere] said it at Locarno Film Festival; it was the first time she saw the film, she was almost crying, and she said, ‘All my life people told me I was a worthless piece of shit. Then Valérie came and she kept telling me I wasn’t, and now I see this film, and maybe I’m not.’ And voila,” she smiles. In Massadian’s hands, young motherhood blooms with dignity and grace. The film also gently engages with social issues, like the lack of state support for single mums, the conditions of working-class employment and homelessness, as we follow Milla through a series of temporary residences. “Everything that is political in the film, whether it’s homelessness, whether it’s drifters – people who don’t have a place in the world, or who refuse a place because they cannot cope with this world and what it asks you to tolerate – of course it’s there, it’s the core.” But Massadian’s manner is more oblique, leaving plenty of room to breathe. “There are people who make very political films in a very frontal way, really showing you the reality of this life and its harshness. If I wanted to do this, I’d go and spend five years with someone, I’d go and live on the street with that person – but I’m not doing that. Or, uh, not for now,” she grins. Instead, she expresses care through poetic long shots that do away with the teary melodrama of poverty and suffering for the subtle (though nevertheless riveting) quotidian battles, like watching Milla patiently coax Ethan to eat. The camera lingers on loaded gestures, looks and dilapidated surfaces, which are all gorgeously observed. “It gives the viewer space. The meanness of the world – you don’t see it, it’s hors champ, it’s outside the frame, but it’s there all the time, to feel and think. As much as I include the people in the film, I also want to include the people watching. “It’s all about resilience,” she continues. “Most of the time when they talk about poor people on television – which I threw away a long time ago – it’s always this drama! And of course there’s drama, but there’s also an incredible amount of joy, there’s an incredible amount of strength, there’s an incredible amount of resilience... There are a lot of moments where I laugh in Milla; it’s sad – yeah, it is – but it’s also full of life.” by Annabel Brady-Brown (@annnabelbb), Film Editor » Milla screens as part of the 2018 Queensland Film Festival (19-29 July). “All my life people told me I was a worthless piece of shit. Then Valérie came along and she kept telling me I wasn’t, and now I see this film, and maybe I’m not.” MILLA FEATURES SÉVERINE JONCKEERE, AS THE YOUNG MUM WHO LOSES HER BOYFRIEND (LEFT), LEAVING HER ON HER OWN TO RAISE SON, ETHAN.