At the Cannes Film Festival, Lola Quivoron caused a sensation in the Rodeo (deliberately written without an accent), his first film, which will be released in theaters next Wednesday. The story of Julia (Julie Ledru) trying to establish herself in the middle of the cross bitumen received a mention from the jury of the Un Certain regard section, led by Valeria Golino.
But the film also became the subject of a violent controversy after the interview the director gave to Konbini in which he linked the police to the accidents that happened during urban rodeos. Lola Quivoron revealed herself in a text published in The Parisian in July to explain that his comments were taken out of context. with 20 minutesthe 33-year-old filmmaker looks back at a subject that captured him this summer and also at the love that swept his film, a moving, immersive and brilliant portrait of a woman.
You separate cross bitumen from urban rodeo, but what is the difference?
Those are two different things. I never appeared in the urban rodeo in my film. On the other hand, the cross bitumen is the backdrop of my fiction. This expression refers to the love that consists of piloting motocross and quads on the asphalt, and doing very technical and very virtuoso acrobatic figures by lifting the front wheel. This is not related to an isolated, unconscious and dangerous practice that takes place in cities and that journalists call “urban rodeos”. Cross bitumen enthusiasts train on roads without traffic, without pedestrian crossings, except in residential areas, usually in the middle of the countryside or in an industrial area. It is also a family universe, with a strong team spirit, mutual support, well-marked codes, a good technicality. Many enthusiasts consider asphalt cross to be a mechanical sport destined to evolve.
How do you integrate into the cross bitumen environment?
I discovered cross bitumen on the Internet in 2015 through videos on Dirty Riderz Crew (the most important association of riders in France), while I was still a student at La Fémis. I went to their training ground. I was amazed by the acrobatics of the bikers and also the noise of the engines which reminded me of this event that I had already observed in my youth in Epinay-sur-Seine (93). the Dirty Riderz Crew the warm welcome to me, has nothing to do with the difficult journey of Julia, the star of my film, within this community. I immediately felt at home in this highly codified and highly ritualized world. Passion is highly contagious and adrenaline is addictive. We experience extraordinary sensations, in the order of trance. These are the very strong feelings that Julia goes through in my film. Rodeo speaks of his desire for speed, power, freedom.
Are you close to Julia, your heroine?
I am not him and he is not me. But, like him, I do not recognize standardized representations, with gender assignments. I am between the two and that influences my world view. The meeting with Julie Ledru, discovered on Instagram, was decisive. His loneliness, his deep anger and his search for family overwhelmed me. Her personality helped me bring Julia to life, a strong woman whose face could be torn from violence. I want to show what it is like to have a woman’s body in a society where determinism, social dictates and false fantasies reign. Julia was born from this desire, which was understood and embodied by Julie Ledru.
Does your film have a documentary vocation?
I insist to say that the film is pure fiction, very well written, unlike my graduation short film, In the distance, Baltimorewhich shows this environment in a naturalistic way. Rodeo more like an action film that is deliberately devoid of psychology. It’s centered around my protagonist who doesn’t represent the community as a whole. I leave a lot of freedom to the audience to judge the actions of my character which I will not explain. It is up to the public to do this work. The reactions are also interesting. Many young women between 15 and 25 identify as Julia, as I did when Emma Peel was her age in the series. Bowler hat and leather boots. The reactions of some older men are a little different because they are stuck in an old system of perception. Rodeo communicates with sociological groups that are not yet united. That is the power of cinema.
Why is cross-bitumen neglected?
We tend to fear what we don’t know and stigmatize it. This is also the case with Rodeo : The public at the previews have always confided to me that they are surprised to find that it is very different from what they thought and that the polemic surrounding it is unjustified. Again, the riders I hang out with are looking for respectability and legitimacy. They want to practice their discipline within a legal framework. the Dirty Riderz Crew also opened a repair workshop for two wheels in the 13th arrondissement of Paris and participated in filming. They dream of sharing and passing on.
How can prejudices about the dangers of these practices change?
We need to be informed and not allow our brains to be consumed by what we see in some media and on the Internet. We also need to change the situation for these young people. Repression is not the only solution. Education and prevention are essential and perhaps also the creation of legal measures to limit accidents by relieving overcrowding in residential homes. It was done in Tremblay-en-France (93), in 1979, with the Circuit Carole twenty minutes from Paris. The bikers, who made wild Runs in Rungis, and on the Paris ring road, showed that there was a place reserved for them and the public authorities gave them their case, which limited the accidents. The problem is not new. You need to meet these young cross-country enthusiasts, to unite them in a collective and civil debate. It is for this purpose that Hélène Geoffroy, mayor of Vaulx-en-Velin (69), has started to prevent and create dedicated spaces since a dramatic accident in her town in 2020.
What did you learn from the experience of controversy?
In Cannes, Rodeo benefited from positive media coverage beyond the ideological positioning of various newspapers. Konbini cut off my words to highlight a violent quote. I am not trying to exclude myself, the responsibilities are shared. I understand that my comments may have offended. I learned that, if you are a young filmmaker, you have a responsibility and that you have to keep your word, because everything that is said can be mediated and exploited. The debate can quickly become one-sided when your words are manipulated. So I became cautious. I will be careful not to let myself get distracted.
Do you now regret calling your film “Rodeo”?
Urban rodeo is not the subject of my film, but I refuse to censor myself. The film is almost titled Sanctuary hope The slab in reference to the refuge the hero finds in the middle of the bitumen of the cross and his consuming rage. but Rodeo, written without an accent, in the American way, seems more fluid, in movement, which corresponds more to this immersive narrative. The rodeo consists of staying in the saddle for eight seconds like the cowboys in the United States and like Julia on the handlebars of her bicycle. He tries to stay on course as he is being manipulated from all sides. I understand how he feels. Rodeo is a portrait of a woman written by a woman and made in twenty-nine days on a small budget of one million euros. Suffice it to say that this is not the economy of Fasting & Angerneither of madmax !
Why is it so important for you to communicate this environment?
The cinema is there to destroy preconceptions, to see another world and try to understand it without going through the harsh relations of the media and social networks. In this sense, more controversy is around Rodeo, I prefer my film to exist. I made films to create a link. I want to take the audience around this encounter, around the emotion of my film, around this epic story. I want us to talk about the real subject of my film: the journey of this fiery and incandescent hero. I hope that the debate will be open and productive and that it will not be overshadowed by the power of cinema.