Set in the suburbs of Boulogne-Sur-Mer in northern France, THE WORST ONES captures a film within a film as it follows the production of a feature whose director turns to the local Cité Picasso housing project for casting. Eager to capture performances of gritty authenticity, the director selects four working class teenagers to act in the film to the surprise and consternation of the local community, who question the director’s choice of “the worst ones.” As the director and crew audition, rehearse, film, and interact with their hand-picked cast, jealousies are stoked, lines are crossed, and ethical questions arise, with thought-provoking and at times darkly funny results.. Co-directors / co-screenwriters Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret join us for a conversation on the inspiration for their thought-provoking, compassionate drama, how their background as casting directors has helped them in the transition into directing and how their winning the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival has impacted their future plans.
About the filmmaker – Romane Gueret – studied cinema at the Sorbonne and then took her first steps towards directing as an assistant director, casting assistant, and cameraman.
About the filmmaker – Lise Akoka – completed a university course in Psychology and professional training in acting (Les Ateliers du Sud and the Studio-théâtre d’Asnières). She then discovered, in casting and coaching children for film, a way of bringing her two interests together.
Their collaboration – In 2014, Romane and Lise met during casting for a feature film, for which they auditioned more than 4,000 young non-professional actors for several months. In 2015, they co-directed the short film Chasse Royale, which won awards at several festivals, most notably the Illy Prize at the 2016 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.In 2017, the film was nominated for a César Award for Best Short Film. In 2018, they co-directed the documentary Allez garçon! for the Hobbies collection, which was broadcast in 2019 on Canal+. In 2020, their web series Tu préfères was broadcast on Arte and then selected for the Sundance Film Festival. In summer of 2021, they made their first feature film, THE WORST ONES, which was shot in Boulogne-sur-Mer and won the Grand Prix at Un Certain Regard at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
“[It] is sensitive, intelligent filmmaking, but its even-handed nature toward both the population of Picasso and Gabriel’s film sometimes feels like an elision of perspective, like it’s walking up to the line but ultimately letting everyone off the hook.” – Chris Mello, In Review Online
“‘The Worst Ones,’ with dark humor and occasionally confrontational candor… gives us room to query the industry conventions in which it is complicit.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Deeply insightful, “The Worst Ones” is both cerebral and emotional, asking questions and letting us draw our own conclusions. A remarkable achievement of filmmaking and human compassion.” – Mina Takla, AwardsWatch