We talk to Laura Mollica, the Brazilian filmmaker behind ‘Is It Running?’, a moving documentary about Grenoble from the perspective of students from a variety of backgrounds, from Iran to Angola.
Grenoble Life: What is Is it Running? about?
Laura Mollica: Is it running? is a short film shot in France, Grenoble, with three students coming from distant realities: Angola, France and Iran. It’s an independent artistic project, where they open up about their experiences.
GL: Who are the filmmakers? Tell us a little about you.
Laura: I work as a freelance journalist for a TV channel in Brazil. I’m also finishing my degree in Dramatic Arts. But at the time I filmed Is it running? (2009/2010) I just had enough money to buy the tapes to shoot. Those who worked with me were close friends that had bought into the crazy idea of walking around Grenoble with a camera. A little about me? I’m a 27 years old Brazilian, restless with my mind racing all the time. I love walking on the beach, wheat beers and singing out loud. I can become a bit melancholic sometimes. But only sometimes.
GL: Why did you decide to make this film and how did you choose the different interview subjects?
Laura: As soon as I arrived in Grenoble, on a rainy Wednesday, with a 60lb suitcase and a handbag, I met Maulo, the Angolan in the film, who helped me with the city map. A couple of days later I saw a guy on a wheelchair at a bus stop. On a glance I saw we had the same schedule in Dramatic Arts. I just said: “Hi, we’re taking the same classes” (he mocks me to this day because of that). A few weeks later I met Hesam, the Iranian. He came running, breathless to the choir I joined, and began to sing alone. That’s when I thought to myself: “It’s not everyday you get to know real characters like them”. The idea of the documentary was born at that time.
Everything interests me. The way you prepare your tea. The way you place your paper when you’re writing or even some nervous twitches you may have. I’m also interested in how you deal with solitude, with your expectations and fears. I directed the film trying to connect my life with theirs. Asking questions I myself couldn’t find the answer to, such as: “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
GL: What has been the reaction to Is it Running?
Laura: I have had very positive feedback from audiences. I believe that people like to hear from those people who are able to speak openly, without hiding the “strange side” of reality: fear of failure, rejection, or weakness. It’s refreshing to admit we have these fears too. Many spectators identify with the people in the film because they all express part of our way of life in some way. Sometimes you feel like you’re falling to pieces but you put happy photos of yourself on the internet. That’s not who you really are or how you feel. (But I must admit off the record that I have done that myself. But I always regret it!)
GL: Will you come back to Grenoble? What do you miss/what did you love about the city?
Laura: I came back to Grenoble last year (2012), two years after the filming was over, to screen the documentary before an audience of nearly 80 people. It was amazing going back. I lived in Paris before, but Grenoble is a thousand times cosier. You always spot someone you know on the street, and suddenly you’re both chattering away about all sorts of stuff in one of the many cafés.
GL: What do you think Grenoble offers to international students?
Laura: As soon as I arrived there, it was quite a shock. I Ieft Rio, a city with more than six million people to go to Grenoble, with just over 400 thousand. I thought: “What the heck am I doing here?”, I didn’t know anything about the city yet. And I was pleasently surprised. Actually Grenoble has a very active social and cultural life. Concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, theatre, and parties, of course. It can be quite though to focus on the studies once you’re there!
GL: What’s next? Do you have any more film projects in the pipeline?
Laura: Right now I’m focused on graduating in Dramatic Arts. I’ll perform my first professional theatre play in September. But the desire of making other films is still here. Last year I finished a short film where beggars, prostitutes and ex-prisioners talked about the precarious healthcare in Brazil. A very interesting theme. But I’m still searching for other stories.