Almost three years after making a splash at Cannes with his first feature film My brother’s wife, Monia Chokri had the honor of launching her new film Babysitter at the renowned Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. However, pandemic obliges, it is in front of his computer, in Montreal, that the filmmaker experienced this virtual premiere.
“At one o’clock in the morning, I was in front of my computer in a kind of Zoom with a moderator, the actors Patrick [Hivon) et Nadia [Tereszkiewicz] and the people of Sundance, said Monia Chokri, laughing, in a telephone interview granted to the Journal Sunday.
“Viewers could ask us questions online, but it was a very abstract experience.”
Of course, Monia Chokri’s original plan was to be on location in Park City, Utah to present her second feature film in person to Sundance audiences. But faced with the rise of the Omicron variant, the festival management decided, at the beginning of January, to cancel the face-to-face part of the event and to opt for a 100% virtual edition, for a second year in a row.
“Of course I was a little disappointed to learn that because I was really excited and happy to be able to present my film at Sundance, a festival that I really wanted to discover, indicates Monia Chokri.
“I’ve also gotten to the point where I need to see the film in a room with an audience. I’ve created Babysitter for the big screen with special care for sound. There, with online screenings, I don’t know under what conditions people will see it. That said, it offers great visibility to the film because it remains a selection at Sundance.
The actress and director is also delighted that her feature film has been selected in the Midnight section of the festival, devoted to extraordinary films. ” Like Babysitter mixes comedy and horror, I thought it lent itself well to it, ”she slips.
A confronting film
Adapted from the play of the same title by Catherine Léger (who also wrote the script for the film), Babysitter chronicles the misadventures of an engineer and new father (Patrick Hivon) who is suspended by his employer after making a sexist joke that has gone viral on social networks. Confronted with his girlfriend (Monia Chokri) and his brother (Steve Laplante), he will undertake therapy by embarking on the writing of a book of excuses addressed to women.
Monia Chokri fell in love with the play when she saw it at the La Licorne theater in 2017. Even if Babysitter was written before the rise of the #MeToo movement, the work tackles potentially explosive topics like misogyny and the notion of consent.
“I wanted to stage this story in the cinema because as a spectator, the subject challenged me and asked me questions, explains Monia Chokri. It will certainly not be a consensus film. But I find it important to try things in the cinema and to confront the viewer. »
Babysitter is due to open in Quebec in April.