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Discotheque Nightmare

Frédéric Jardin's claustrophobic French thriller Sleepless Night is set in a chaotic nightclub, where a father is trying desperately to save the life of his son. Opens Friday, May 11 at Cinema Village. Also available on VOD.

Update: Sleepless Night is currently on VOD and opens at Cinema Village in New York City on Friday, May 11. Find tickets.

Tribeca: Tell us a little about Sleepless Night. How do you describe the movie in your own words?

Frédéric Jardin: Sleepless Night is a thriller, of course, and there is a lot of action and craziness, all set in real time. But for me, above all it’s about the link between a son and a father—it’s about paternity, and in a very moving way.

Tribeca: What inspired you to tell this story? There is something about exploring the limits to what we will do when our loved ones are in danger.

Frédéric Jardin: Yes, there is definitely something to that. I was also attracted to the idea that it was a tragedy—one set in real time, mostly within the same set, like in a real Greek tragedy. At the very beginning, I had the idea that I wanted to tell a story about a son and a father, but there are so many ways to do that…

I wanted also to make a film set in a discotheque, because that is a real nightmare for me. [laughs] It’s a mini-world—everything is around you, revolving around the characters, with such immediacy. I really liked the challenge of that.

Sleepless Night

Tribeca: It’s a terrific cast—what can you tell us about the casting process?

Frédéric Jardin: What I set out to do was to have a mixture of a very different kind of family of actors in the film. It’s quite crazy, because usually all these actors never work together: some work in the theater, in the Comedie Francaise—the very serious national theater in France—and Joey Starr is a rap star and singer, Tomer Sisley is quite a new face in France, and the actor who plays the son is quite famous in France, because he played in a comedy, which was a big success. So I wanted a set of actors who all come from very different worlds.

Tribeca: This is an action-packed movie, and, as you mention, so much takes place within one giant nightclub. Was it an actual club, or did you build sets?

Frédéric Jardin: Oh, no, the nightclub does not exist at all. Because the film was a co-production between France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, I had to shoot in three different countries. So the dancefloor, for instance, is in Brussels; the restaurant and the kitchen are in Luxembourg; and the office of Marciano is in France. So you see what I mean? It was all very complex, especially for the actors—even though the story is set in real time, all the locations were so separate.

Sleepless Night

Tribeca: How long was your shoot?

Frédéric Jardin: 40 days—8 weeks—with little pauses between the countries.

Tribeca: What about your outside scenes? Where did you shoot? Are French citizens blasé about such things?

Frédéric Jardin: It was a mixture, but many scenes were shot in Paris. And in Luxembourg City. In Paris, yes, everyone is blasé. [laughs] But when I shot outside, it was very, very early in the morning, so the streets were, in fact, completely empty.

Tribeca: How do you work with actors? Did you have a lot of time for rehearsal? Was everything timed to the minute?

Frédéric Jardin: I did have some rehearsal time before. Even though it’s an action movie, there is a lot of talking, and I wanted everything to be very precise. I take a lot of time with the actors; I work with them closely. In this film there was no room for improvisation. The goal is the make it look natural, but in fact, it takes a lot of work to make scenes look natural. 

Sleepless Night

Tribeca: Who are some of your inspirations in the action genre?

Frédéric Jardin: For this film I was mainly impressed by the South Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong, who made Memories of Murder—that was an extreme, great thriller for me. Also, the Pusher trilogy from the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn—I was quite influenced by the energy in his directing. I was not influenced too much by American films…

Tribeca: What are you most excited about in coming to Tribeca?

Frédéric Jardin: I am so excited to hear and see the reaction for the very first time of the American people. We showed the film at the Toronto Film Festival, but Toronto is not America. I think the energy in New York is different.

Tribeca: In addition to its Festival premiere, Tribeca Film will distribute Sleepless Night in over 40 million homes via VOD on April 17, which is a very wide release. How do you feel about this new distribution model?

Frédéric Jardin: I think this is great! I think we should have models like this in France—in France, the VOD is much too late after the theatrical release. I think it’s just great.

Sleepless Night

Tribeca: If you could have dinner with any filmmaker (alive or dead), who would it be?

Frédéric Jardin: Orson Welles, because he seems to be so clever and so funny in interviews. He is also so modern, even though he died in 1985, over 25 years ago. He is Mister Cinema to me—the symbol of the modern cinema.

Tribeca: What’s your favorite New York movie?

Frédéric Jardin: There are so many, but I like very much Bad Lieutenant by Abel Ferrara. It’s extremely dark, but I love it.

Tribeca: And finally, what makes Sleepless Night a Tribeca must-see?

Frédéric Jardin: [laughs] You are the one who should answer that! I am too modest. It’s the critic’s work… But okay: the mixture of craziness and emotion is what I want to share with the audience.

Frédéric Jardin

Frédéric Jardin was born in Paris and made his first steps in cinema as an assistant to Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Sautet, and Jacques Doillon. His feature films include La Folie Douce (1994), The Sister Brothers (2000), and Cravate Club (2003).

Sleepless Night is currently on VOD and opens at Cinema Village in New York City on Friday, May 11. Find tickets.



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