Felix Bossuet Belle & Sebastian
Cast: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Chatelier
Director: Nicolas Vanier
Genre: Adventure, Family
Running Time: 104 minutes
Synopsis: The beloved story of a boy and his dog continues in this heart-warming sequel to the 2013 international box office hit, Belle & Sebastian. It is September 1945. Now 10 years old, Sebastian is celebrating the end of the war along with the village – and eagerly awaiting the return of Angelina. When news reaches them that her plane has crashed in the forest, everyone's joy turns to sadness as they mourn her. All except César - who believes she is still alive.
He seeks out a man to help them find her and Sebastian and Belle set out to rescue her, embarking on a journey that will see them face many ordeals and great dangers, and confront a secret that will forever change their lives.
Belle & Sebastian
About The Production
The story of Belle & Sebastian is based on the much loved children's book written by Cécile Aubry, which was adapted into a highly successful TV series in the 1960s. In addition to a Japanese Anime film in the 1980s and inspiring the name of a Scottish Indie Pop Band; the franchise next became a feature film in 2013. Belle et Sebastian was a box office sensation across Europe, especially in its native France and neighbouring Italy. Audiences also embraced the timeless tale at the 2014 French Film Festivals across Australia and New Zealand. Its universal appeal is set to capture hearts all over again with the release of Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues
Christian Duguay on Belle & Sebastian
On Becoming Involved With Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues
The film found me! I didn't even know that the first movie had been made when my agent told me that the producers wanted to meet with me. They were really excited when I told them I was a big fan of the TV series. I discovered the episodes when I was a kid in Montreal and later I thought Sebastian would be a good name for my son one day. The Director of the first film, Nicolas Vanier was committed on another project so the producers thought it would be a good opportunity to get a new approach whilst respecting the existing universe of the story. After watching the original film, what really struck me was how it captured an ode to nature and the purity of the connection between these human beings and their surrounding environment; as well as the sensibility of the young boy played by Félix Bossuet. It made me wonder what I could bring to the next chapter….
On What Attracted Christian To The Script
I was attracted by the relationship between the small boy and his father. I focused on the concept of a strong bond between the two. I also focused largely on the development of this close relationship. I wanted to remain sensitive to the evolving relationship between Sebastian and the dog. Finally, the intervention of Sebastian in the search for Angelina constituted a strong and touching moment. I started this adventure with great happiness and pleasure!
On Collaborating With The Screenwriters
My first meeting with Juliette and Fabien was a real source of inspiration. They allowed me to collaborate my thoughts on the finer details of the film and to find a unique way to tell the story. We shared a lot about the relationship between Sebastian and his father because this is a key theme within the film. Juliette and Fabien have a sensitivity that allowed them to find the right tone and imagine scenes that arouse emotion without falling into pathos: they managed to juggle adventure, surprises, emotion and humour. As a director, it's exhilarating to work from such a wealth of material.
On Viewing The Main Characters' Arcs
In the second film, Sebastian is more mature but still quite fiery and fearless. César is very attached to Sebastian. How should he react when the man who abandoned the boy and his mother years ago returns? Should he protect Sebastian from his father? As the story develops we see that Pierre will have a key role to play.
On Connecting With The Characters And The Story
As this was a sequel, I had to stay faithful to the existing characters. I not only watched the first film, but also all of the rushes from the original shoot in order to immerse myself into the story and get a feel for how the director translated this mythical story into such touching work.
Watching the footage enabled me to understand how Nicolas Vanier had worked with the dogs and the cast. It also allowed me to get to know Félix, understand his acting style and develop a rapport based on his work. I also worked closely with Andrew Simpson, the animal coordinator who always knew how to get the best result out of the dogs without impeding Félix's performance. This process gave me the opportunity to more accurately lead the actors into the next dimension of the story, having inserted myself into the same history they were bringing to the sequel.
On Working With Tchéky Karyo In The Past
I met Tchéky Karyo on JAPPELOUP and was looking forward to re-connecting with him on this new project. His generosity early on allowed me to delve into the character of Félix, to break the ice and work with the material. I find Tchéky an admirable actor. Although he is not present throughout the entire film, he has an essential role; he appears on the screen in scenes that have great emotional impact. He is extraordinary both for his restraint and the human depth he embodies.
On Meeting Thierry Neuvic
My meeting with Thierry Neuvic was very unusual both on a professional and personal level. He is a man with whom you immediately want to remain friends with for the rest of your life. He gives off a feeling of truth, authenticity, and strength. He is quite the character and emerges as a heroic protector early on in the film. Thierry is also a true adventurer like we have not seen for a long time. I imagine that the birth of his first child while shooting the film gave him much excitement and happiness. Félix obviously felt his wonderful energy as they were like two magnets and their relationship was something magical.
On Working With Félix
During the preparation I watched all the raw footage taken by Nicolas Vanier from the first film, which allowed me to have a first impression of Félix. It really was at this point that I understood who he was, how Nicolas had previously directed him and how I could best instruct him. I remember one day when I was with the writers, Félix and his mother, the boy looked me straight in the eye staring at me unflinchingly. I noticed his striking maturity and his piercing eyes. I knew then that we had a special bond and I saw the character flourish and light up within him. In my career, I have never met such a young actor who gives as enthusiastically and authentically to his role. Thanks to him, this adventure film became an intimate experience.
On The Film Shoot
We were very lucky during filming. This adventure could have easily faltered and turned into a nightmare because we were shooting complex scenes in extreme conditions, between air sequences and forest fires. We were shooting with unpredictable animals and children who could only work 3-4 hours per day. In the end, the elements were in our favour. Even the weather followed us day after day, as if it was aware of the work plans and requirements we were facing.
We also shot with an aircraft suspended for the acrobatic scenes. I worked closely with the second team director, Didier Lafond, who had extensive experience in aerial shoots. On flights where we see the vintage aircraft, there was a helicopter that was following the camera safely. The challenge was to successfully pick the right angle when shooting. Above all, the team gave their body and soul, with extraordinary professionalism and immense generosity.
On Working With The Dogs
We used several dogs, all of which were Pyrenean Mountain dogs, a particular breed of old shepherd dogs. They can be stubborn dogs, so we found ourselves often trying to motivate them during scenes with pieces of meat. There was initially Bear, who was small but had a beautiful face for close ups that really showed emotion. The second dog, named Fort, was larger and sported an incredible physical presence that enabled him to play the fire scenes and other stunts very well. Finally, Garfield combined the qualities of the other dogs but was also the most unpredictable. It was he who played Belle in the first film.
On Working With Other Animals
Under the watchful eye of animal wrangler, Andrew Simpson and his team we managed to coordinate a group of animals that included wolves, wild boars, deer, foxes, as well as a bear and birds of prey! Needless to say these scenes were complex to implement but the contribution of the animals was essential to give natural and true feeling to the film.
On The Music
The music and the soundtrack were composed by Armand Amar. I think the melody adds so much to the film. The great strength of this composer lies in his innate sense of musical harmony, which allows the audience to focus on the characters and really get involved in the scene.
Félix Bossuet on Belle & Sebastian
On Being Involved In The Sequel
I really liked the first film, so I was happy to hear that the story of Belle & Sebastian would continue. Upon learning that there would also be new characters introduced in the sequel, I was really keen to be involved.
On The Story And Evolution Of Sebastian
Even though Sebastian had changed a bit, I could still recognise him. He had certainly grown up, but is still pretty stubborn. This time around, he has more support and learns to reach out to others.
On Whether Félix And Sebastian Are Alike
Not really, except physically of course. We have very different personalities. He's a kid but he is in control of what he does – where he goes and when he goes. He is completely free. Kids today don't get to do that, especially in towns and cities.
On Working With Tchéky Karyo Again
We had the same great relationship as on the first shoot. We almost had a grandfather/grandson relationship. We spent lots of time together on the first film and were
obviously able to build on that.
On Working With Dogs And Bears
It was great to work with the same dogs from the original film as well as new ones. I spent time with them before the shoot to get to know them. I also got training so as to not be afraid of the larger dogs. I had to do a special course to learn how to get the dogs to follow me - to feed them, pet them and to do lots of other things.
I wasn't too scared as there were protective barriers in place in case he decided to attack us. I would definitely have been more scared without those barriers, but it was funny because the handlers were feeding him marshmallows.
On Making Movies
I would love to continue making movies. You get to meet lots of great people, different directors and other actors. The crew is not chosen by accident, they are all great. I would like to be involved with other films that are as adventurous as this one.
Tchéky Karyo on Belle & Sebastian
On Hearing That A New Belle & Sebastian Adventure Was In Development
I was extremely happy. The first one was a bit of a gamble with the story being from the -60s so it was great that it was such a success. It seems very natural to make a second film to continue the story.
On How César Has Changed
César is still a man of few words but he is very pragmatic and extremely adaptable. He is proud of Sebastian and his convictions.
On Working With Félix Again
We were so happy to see each other. It was amazing to be working together again. We immediately regained the partnership we developed on the first shoot. It's very touching considering in between films he had grown up so much!
On Working With Christian Duguay
Christian is glued to the camera. He searches for the perfect frame and knows all the technical aspects involved in capturing just the right emotion. He trusts the camera and feels what the actors are feeling.
He takes viewers of the film on an epic journey that is full of emotion.
Thierry Neuvic on Belle & Sebastian
On Seeing The Tv Series Ahead Of Working On The Film
I knew the series well and kept it in mind while shooting the film – especially the relationship between the dog and the boy. I also remembered the beautiful music that played throughout their adventures. Knowing this really helped when I did some test screens with Félix and Christian.
On The Script
The script really complimented the beautiful landscapes in which the film would be shot. I was really excited to play a kind of Indiana Jones like character on the beautiful sets in the mountains.
On His Character
My character really touched me, although at first he is rather a bit grouchy and comes across as somewhat of a bad guy. In the early stages of the film, Pierre is a loner, who does not talk to many people and is not appreciated by anyone, preferring to make money rather than friends. Little does he know that this adventure will in fact, lead him to love. The responsibility he feels for Sebastian is the first time in his life that he has cared this much for another person. He begins to slowly change, becoming gentler, loving, generous and more responsible.
On Working With Félix
Before I met Félix, I had been told that he was a great talent, but not very open with new people. The first time we met, I asked him about his favourite toy and we had a friendly chat about a few things as a way to break the ice. We spent a lot of time together to build a genuine relationship, as Christian the director had explained to me that the secret to the film will be the relationship between Sebastian and Pierre. Félix brought out my inner child and we had a lot of fun together. I believe that recently becoming a father myself gave me a different perspective on the relationship I built with Félix, certainly influencing my approach.
On Working With Tchéky Karyo
I got on very well with him even though we didn't actually have that many scenes together. I really respect his independent and strong mind, as well as his artistic and musical sense. He actually had his baby during the first Belle And Sebastian, so it was quite funny that it would be me becoming a father during the shoot of the second film.
On Working With Director Christian Duguay
The great thing with Christian is that he is extremely competent technically and is always able to find the perfect frame. His filming technique has a real sensitivity which was essential in order to present the delicate mix of action and emotion. Christian is a great captain who leads his team with a crazy amount of energy. He allowed the actors to really interpret our characters but would occasionally ask for readjustments which occasionally led to long days on set. He is very aware that a camera movement can add so much to a scene and does this particularly well.
The shoot took place in the Upper Valley Maurienne Vanoise where there is great vastness and stunning scenery, which required very particular frames. I feel as though shooting in such an isolated location away from the rest of the world really helped everyone involved with this film. We spent all our time together - for decisions relating to the film, meals, celebrating birthdays, etc.
On Preparing For The Airplane Scenes
I had never flown a plane before, so I had to learn how to perform manoeuvres on the ground like how to curb and stop in position. I was also able to try accelerating and taking off! It was my first time experimenting with aviation.
On The Finished Film
I am extremely happy with the finished film. Overall, I think it was so beautifully shot and that Christian has captured some great emotion which is not an easy task when filming action scenes! I hope audiences can appreciate the stunning scenery and the wonderful story of Belle & Sebastian.
Thylane Blondeau on Belle & Sebastian
On The Script
The story is very different from the first film. I really loved the script. I found it to be really touching.
On Her Character
I play a young girl, Gabriele, who is 13 years old. She helps her father out with chores and behaves mostly like a tom-boy. She is very fearless and not afraid of anything. She has always been surrounded by men, so I think she sort of refused to be feminine, believing it is a man's world.
On Acting With An Italian Accent
I trained with an accent coach for two months before shooting. It was not always easy because I had to be conscious of every word I spoke. I continued working with the coach via phone during filming, sometimes for up to two hours each day. I enjoyed the process though, because I love all different sorts of languages!
On Working With Félix
I really loved working with Félix! He had already experienced the first film, so it was great to get some insight from him during the shoot. He was like a little brother to me.
On Working With Thierry Neuvic
I love Thierry! It was "Uncle Thierry" on set. He always had a kind word and such a tender regard. He always looked out for me on set, which was great.
On The Film Shoot
The shoot itself was pretty hard physically because we wore rather heavy clothes and it was very hot outside. I also had to continue my schooling while shooting for a few hours a day, so the days became extremely busy!
On The Finished Film
I loved the movie - it is beautiful. However, I am still not used to seeing myself on the screen! I am grateful to have been involved with this film and I congratulate all actors and crew who were involved in the film.
Belle & Sebastian