Lorna's Silence: Interview with Writer-Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne are the writers-directors of “Lorna's Silence,” which is being by Sony Pictures Classics on July 31, 2009.

All your previous movies were set in Seraing, the industrial town where you spent your childhood. This time around, you decided to set your story in Liège, which is a big city.

It’s just a few miles away. We agree that Liège is a bigger city, with plenty of people in the streets during the daytime as well as in the evening. For Lorna, the main character, who comes from Albania, a big European city embodies all sorts of hope. We also wanted to see Lorna in the midst of the crowd, people physically close to her but who knew nothing of her secret.

Unlike your previous movies, which were shot in super 16 mm, this one is shot in 35 mm with a less mobile camera and wider frames. Why did you go for this?

We tested 5 digital cameras, a 35 mm and a super 16 mm. The images shot at night with the 35 mm were closest to our project. Plus, we had decided that this time around, the camera would not be constantly moving, would be less descriptive and would be limited to recording images. Because of its weight the 35 mm was best suited for us.

The main character of your movie, Lorna, is played by an actress from Kosovo. How did you find her?

One of our assistants went to Pristina, Skopje and Tirana in order to audition about one hundred professional and non-professional young actresses. We selected Arta Dobroshi. We had seen her in two Albanian movies a few weeks before. We went to Sarajevo, where she lives, to meet her and we filmed her with our DV camera for a whole day. We filmed her walking, running, singing and also playing in scenes like those in our movie. Then she came over to Liège and we filmed her acting with Jérémie Renier and Fabrizio Rongione. She was amazingly beautiful and natural. In the evening, before she flew to Sarajevo, we told her that we had selected her for the role of Lorna and that she would have to come back to Belgium a few months before the shooting to rehearse and learn French.
Despite the dramatic dimension of the story, your movie has a sensual and sweet quality.

We owe it to Arta, the actress. Her face, her voice, the way she moves, the way she speaks French with her special accent ¼ and it’s probably because of our camera’s perception of things, and probably because the movie is also a love story.