One-on-one with filmmaker Charles Habib-Drouot on his short Queen Crocodile, and more
Meet Brussels-based filmmaker Charles Habib-Drouot. After studies in literature and cinema, Charles Habib-Drouot created and ran the documentary production company Triptyque Films, before leaving to focus on his work as an auteur. Scriptwriter, director, editor, his work lies between fiction film, documentary and theater. His narrative short Queen Crocodile (2018) was selected for multiple film festivals, amongst which the Boston Short Film Festival, Amsterdam Independent Film Festival, Bruges International Film Festival (where it won Best Belgian Film), Super Shorts London, and Verona International Film Festival. iFilmFestival had an exclusive one-on-one with him on his experience as a filmmaker.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
Charles: “Queen Crocodile is my most important short film. It's a weird, mystical drama about prostitution and African spirituality, and the whole film is spent with a Bulgarian prostitute working in Brussels.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
Charles: “It was my first fiction that got some sort of financing, and the first time I had a whole crew, and a lot of time to rehearse with the actors. I had to shoot a few sequences depicting sex acts, which was a big and new challenge for me… and also a singing sequence, where 20 people sing with the lead actress. But the actress didn't know how to sing !”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
Charles: “I'm very proud of the actors, and how they let me direct them in the way I wanted. It implied a lot of work, and physical transformations, especially for the lead actress, Lydia Indjova, who had to build her character of a prostitute. But all the actors were amazing all along the way.”
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
Charles: “It started very early, in my teenager days. I think I did my first short when I was 14, even if I'm not very proud of it… There was a film workshop at my high school, and I had always wanted to make films. But when I discovered the reality of it, I wanted even more !”
Trailer: Queen Crocodile (2018)
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
Charles: “I'm finishing a 45 minutes film, my first comedy — even if it's a bittersweet, melancholic one. I'm very eager to show it to the world… And I'm also working on my first feature, which is a development of my short Queen Crocodile.”
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
Charles: “Without the festivals, there are very few ways of showing short films. So they are the air that a short can breathe to survive. Because they're, most of the time, the only way to SHOW those films to an audience. And films are made to be shared with people.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
Charles: “I'm a bit pessimistic about it sometimes. It looks like the next generation is not so passionate about films. They go to movie theatrers less and less, they are less and less curious about different cinemas. Sometimes I wonder if there's still gonna be people interested in gathering in movie theaters, watching films together, feeling something and talking about it after.”
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
Charles: “Akira Kurosawa, because everything he did is full of emotion, of humanity ; Takeshi Kitano, because in his early years he made films like every film was the first one in the history of film ; and Arnaud Desplechins because his movies are so smart and exciting that they make people think they are smarter than they think. ”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
Charles: “Fils de plouc (Motherschmuckers), a Belgian film that was selected in Sundance, by Lenny and Harpo Guitt. Maybe the most stupid and brillant comedy I've ever seen in 10 years. Those are new fascinating directors.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Charles for answering our questions!
Interview by iFilmFestival on 12/10/2021.