when the American Film Festival shows the new faces of precariousness in the United States

when the American Film Festival shows the new faces of precariousness in the United States

On the third day of the official competition, the two films in selection, war pony (directed by Riley Keough and Gina Gammel) and Scrap (directed by Vivian Kerr), transported viewers from a Native American reservation in Dakota to the middle-class neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

A trip to the heart of a youth plagued by misery who tries by all means to get out of it to war pony and precariousness affecting the middle class today for Scrap. Victims of the crisis who do not resign themselves. Two first feature films directed by women and warmly applauded by the Deauville public.

In Cannes, last May, “War Pony” received the well-deserved prize of the Golden Camera. Co-directed by actress Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter), this immersion in the heart of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the footsteps of two teenagers forced to manage to survive, has also touched the hearts of the Deauville public. war pony follows the intertwined destinies of two young Lakota boys from the Indian reservation: Matho, twelve years old, rejected by his father, and Bill, twenty-three years old, unemployed, immature dad.

The co-director of "war pony" Gina Gammel presented her film on September 5 at the CID in Deauville.  (SABINE GORNY / FRANCE INFO CULTURE)

Two misfits who try by all means to get out of misery in this community abandoned by the elites. Everything is good for trying to survive, dealing methadone, stealing, and even breeding poodles. We are not ready to forget the big sad eyes of the teenager who plays Matho. Shocking from start to finish in this role of orphan, courageous and determined to take revenge on the life that has not spared him. The strength of the film is due to the freshness of these young performers cast within the very reserve, a reserve crisscrossed for long weeks by the two directors in search of “their rare pearls”. The wild nature, the animals that cross the film (bison, horses), like so many references to Native American history, also contribute to the beauty of the film which never yields to social misery.

Second film in competition of the day, Scrap, by and with Vivian Kerr, also treats, in her own way, the left behind and the victims of precariousness. We are however in Hollywood, but alongside Beth Anderson, mother of a young girl, recently fired and who does not dare to admit it to her relatives. Here she is reduced to living in her car, which has become her home by default. She sleeps there, eats, makes her phone calls looking for a job and is forced to entrust her daughter to the care of her brother, a wealthy writer who is desperately trying to have a child with his partner.

The precariousness that invites itself among American executives affected by unemployment and who can no longer cope, the unspoken family, so many themes that run through this film and which also question today about what “to be a good mother”. The heroine of the film, in distress, prefers that her daughter grow up in her brother’s warm home rather than making her bear this instability, even if it means shocking. She wants to take the time to rebuild herself, and find a job before recovering her.

To the spectators who questioned her this afternoon in Deauville about the origin of this story, Vivian Kerr, director but also the main actress of the film, spoke of the incredible number of middle managers who were victims of the crisis. She met many workers who, for lack of means, now live in their vehicles and do everything to stay dignified and keep up appearances.

Director Vivian Kerr with the cast and producer of the film "Scrap" (SABINE GORNY / FRANCE INFO CULTURE)

A reality that they obviously hide, out of shame, from those around them. Scrap was originally a short film, released in 2018. Vivian Kerr reworked the script to give it a little more depth. In the end, a fiction on a reality little shown in the cinema until then and with which the public can only identify. Tuesday, September 6, the two films in competition will evoke the theme of the passage from childhood to adulthood, a very present theme this year in Deauville.

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