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Teenager Lucie (Isild Le Besco, À Tout de Suite) is an overly zealous fan of a famous pop diva, Lauren Waks (Emmanuelle Seigner, The Ninth Gate). In order to cope with her bleak small-town life, Lucie obsesses over the singer, covering her bedroom walls with images and posters of her mysterious, inaccessible idol. One day, a chance situation allows Lucie to meet Lauren and gain access to the star's vastly unstable life. Gradually their lives intertwine as, with near-operatic intensity, the emotional dependencies on both sides of celebrity culture are revealed. Directed and co-written by Emmanuelle Bercot.

 

 Backstage
      

What are we searching for in our adoration and fascination with “stars”?

These human beings of bright appearance, who, because they are gifted artistically, find themselves catapulted into the world of stardom which constitutes “show business.” It is a world everyone dreams about—money and entertainment—two words synonymous with happiness and recognition. At least that’s what we are led to believe.

Are we trying to fill the emptiness of our ordinary lives? Do we find in others what we would have liked to be (famous and adored)? Are we really transported by their artistic universe?

I don’t recall ever being a “fan” or having any idols. However, I have been, for a long time, fascinated by fans and their irrational behavior, their desperate passion, their desire and fantasy, which is most of the time accompanied by emotional fragility and deep distress. In extreme cases, fans see their idols as a drug and devote themselves entirely to them even though the stars have no real presence in their lives. It’s an unfathomable mystery.

How can one cross the magic mirror standing between these two very distinct and separate worlds? Can it really happen, or is it doomed to remain an illusion? Is some form of communication possible between admirers and those who are admired? Why is it that I don’t feel anything in front of a star and others faint? This is what inspired me to make Backstage, the story of one fan’s crazed passion for a famous singer.

Only in film could such a meeting take place, in this case pushed to its extreme, because in real life fans don’t meet their idols. They are separated by insurmountable obstacles such as windows, barriers and bodyguards. Countless limitations are put up against these completely opposite worlds, which are nevertheless intertwined. At times, a meeting is possible but the seconds are strictly counted.

My story could have been, through the magic of fiction, a fairytale but I chose to stay close to what I thought was likely and realistic, and capture the craziness and perversity that, in extreme cases, take over fans when they come face to face with their idols. At the same time, I wanted to show that celebrities are caught up in this game as well—in order to remain stars, they must keep the public interested and fascinated. In this sense, Backstage is a film on this game of power and dependence, just as any film about passionate or impossible love.

This fascination, when it becomes unhealthy, as is the case in the film, is alienating and becomes a dependency like any other. In its excessive expression, the addiction is like any other hard and destructive drug.

In France nowadays, I think young people—led into a race to stardom by the numerous reality TV shows which give the false impression that anybody can become famous and adored after one televised song—admire stars not for who they are, but for what they themselves want to be, rich and famous, like them. Young French people are fascinated by the idea of celebrity. The stars become examples to follow and stardom a goal to attain.

I don’t have enough knowledge of American society to analyze its fascination with celebrities. But the U.S. is the cradle of the “star system,” producing the biggest stars in the world and the only ones who continue to survive. It is commonly agreed that in France, for example, there are no more “stars” in the noble sense of the word. It must be that American society knows, better than any other, how to create and sustain its idols—much in the same way as we have created and sustained mythology…

A few months ago, I presented Backstage at the Toronto International Film Festival and after the screening, actor Gabriel Byrne—who I love—made a brilliant comment (it seemed to me) which evoked precisely the subject of the film and how American society deals with its idols. He was standing there in front of me and I was so excited that I can’t remember a word he said. That experience taught me to be a fan, for a few brief moments!