Pio Marmaï – On the occasion of the theatrical release of the film “Investigation into a state scandal”, a thriller in which the cinema looks at the revelation in 2016 of a major scandal, we were able to meet its director Thierry de Peretti and the actor Pio Marmaï. The opportunity to talk about game accuracy and the power of fiction over reality.
Pio Marmaï (Investigation into a state scandal)
Journalistic thriller and particular cinema object, State Scandal Investigation is the new feature film by Thierry de Peretti, after The Apaches and A violent life. Far from the Corsica of these two films, the director immerses us with his characters in a major scandal involving narcotics in 2016, revealed at the time by the journalist of Release Emmanuel Fasten and former unofficial narcotics agent Hubert Avoine.
With Pio Marmaï, who embodies the film’s journalist, they talk to us about this unique film investigation.
How to understand State Scandal Investigationwhich seems to constantly escape satisfactory definition?
Pio Marmaï -Thierry de Peretti: We try to make films with several triggers, which can be read on several levels. First, there is the main question of the survey, conducted by Stéphane Vilner and the editorial staff of Release, and from their point of view, it is a state scandal. But the film endeavors to tell all the circus, all the theater around that.
So we also see the public prosecutor, the police, the whole environment of these subjects.
There is also a critique of media constructions and the society of the spectacle. What is most important is the question of the narrative. Who says what? Is it Hubert Antoine, who has things to prove, to demonstrate? Is it the character played by Pio Marmaï who connects the events and writes them down, thus giving them meaning?
The story of Stéphane Vilner precisely, his investigation which is the subject of the film, how to restore it as accurately as possible?
Pio Marmaï: With Thierry, we tried to find a space of freedom in the language. That is to say, like Emmanuel Fasten, to succeed, without vulgarizing too much, in making such sprawling information accessible, digestible, and alive.
So find a form of truth about what Emmanuel can be as a journalist, in this relationship to language. I worked on a lot of texts, and since there are a lot of sequence shots, precision is crucial, you have to find fluidity, ease. When it works I have a feeling of evidence, it’s extremely enjoyable.
For my relationship to Hubert, the character of Roschdy Zem, there was this sum of texts as the basis of the work, the same recordings that were used in the book The infiltrator: from the hunt for Chapo Guzman to the French narcotics scandal. So we listened to all the recordings between Emmanuel and Hubert. We then replayed the exchanges.
Thierry de Peretti: They plugged into the characters, from the words the real people had said. How they think, how they speak, with what vocabulary. It goes back to what Pio says, speaking out is central in the film.
We all tend to think that what we hear or read is true, authentic, but there is always a political and narcissistic issue, that of existing through the stories we formulate, the subjects we choose.
In a way, for State Scandal Investigation, we conducted a survey on the texts that were pronounced. In the recordings, we heard them laughing, digressing on other subjects, it gave us a lot of information about them.
Much more than what we usually find, with scenes of a character in his childhood, his intimacy, his girlfriend, a crisis. We have not deduced their psychology from these kinds of representations but from these interviews.
So a real investigation for you too, but in a pure film business?
Thierry de Peretti: State Scandal Investigation questions the stories that are being told, rather than simply saying, “there is state violence, bad corrupt cops, and nice journalists.” The idea is to keep in mind that everyone has something to sell. And the power of fiction, with these texts and these performers, is to offer a cinematic equivalence to a real fact.
I believe that cinema can provide access to areas that journalists and politicians cannot reach. The politician always has three ideas behind his head and there is a form of scam, the journalist is almost obsessed with the sole search for the reality of the facts. With the cinema we are broader, we ask the question of the reality of the facts and the reality of the people.