With On The Way to School winning awards, director Pascal Plisson talks about movies on children & influential filmmakers
Director-screenwriter Pascal Plisson believes movies can change people’s lives. Made in 2013, On The Way to School is one such and shows the lives of four children and their journey to school every day. Incidentally, one of the children is from India. Plisson’s movie was awarded the César Award for Best Documentary Film this year. Clearly drawn to themes revolving around children and wildlife, the Frenchman has also made movies like The Big Day, which talks about the lives of five children and a crucial exam they need to take, and Masai The Rain Warriors, which is about the tribe. That said, the 55-year-old Paris-born director does not rule out making a film with a celebrity. More from him on his upcoming movies, wildlife and the countries he has been to:
Why does wildlife feature so prominently in your work?
I used to live in East Africa, when I worked as a wildlife director for Canal+, Nat Geo, BBC, Discovery Channel etc. I have spent most of my life in the wild and remote places, to document the relationship between humans and wild animals.
Tell us about Super 30.
When I had decided to do The Big Day, I had asked Devanshu Arya, an ad filmmaker (of Ignite Films), to search for an interesting and true success story that would work. After a few days, Devanshu and A L Abanindran (his partner) got back to me about the Super 30. It is about 30 kids from a poor background who are given an eight-month training to crack IIT. I thought it was a very good idea, so we did it.
Why are you fascinated by themes that revolve around children?
I like the world of kids, education and the wild. I like to show the world, especially the developed countries, that you have incredible kids fighting for education and a better life in some parts of the world.
When did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 18 because I liked pictures, travelling, meeting people around the world with different stories and culture. I never thought of or had any ideas of an alternate profession.
You have lived in several countries. What have you learnt from the people there?
I have lived in Australia, Kenya, USA, Argentina, etc, and I have always met fantastic people who had incredible stories to tell. That is my inspiration.
What was your first film?
I have done a lot of documentaries but the first success was a movie called Elephant Bones of Life —Quand les éléphants meurent.
How about a full length, commercial film?
I would like to, but my movie will be based on true stories.
Pick and choose
● Most cherished film: The Thin Red Line
● Favourite wildlife filmmaker: Jacques Perrin ● Last watch: Planet of the Apes
● Genre specific: I like different kinds of movie—be it action, romance, fantasy
— Mrinalini Sundar