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LE PARDON, 5min, USA, Thriller/Mystery
Directed by Margarethe Baillou
Set in late 19th century New Orleans, LE PARDON portrays an unusual dialog between a man and a woman: he is heard but not seen, and she is seen but never speaks. A ghostly fictional short film, it is a tale of forgiveness and the art of listening, a poem about an almost encounter and an hommage to the Crescent City. French with English subtitles.
LE PARDON zooms in on one of the most human needs there is: dignity, both one’s own as well as that of others. In this case, it is achieved through a dialog based on both honesty and regard therefor. A male and a female share a dialog about his broken heart. He is heard but not seen; she is seen but stays silent throughout, listening. In the end, there is closure.
Artistically, I decided to mirror the narrative dialog with the most fundamental synergy in film: visuals and audio.
I wrote LE PARDON in one sitting one day while in Toronto. Repeatedly, I attempted to add on to it, but it always felt like wearing one too many pieces of jewelry. I finally gave up and accepted its length. One and a half years later, after many months of searching for the right location for LE PARDON, I visited New Orleans for the first time and was instantly taken by the city’s humbling beauty and its almost spiritual love for the arts. I had rarely seen a place that embraced every visitor so generously the way New Orleans does. Still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, the city has rebuilt niches for its most defining inhabitants: artists and their passionate worlds. Having lost so many people and homes, it welcomes new ones. I knew New Orleans was capable of meeting my little story at eye level. Just in time before the Holidays, LE PARDON had found a home.
After reviewing the script with my fellow producer, Madeline S. McEneney, we began reaching out to New Orleans, and with local help from our production manager, Pamela Moriarty, the production schedule shaped up quickly. We flew in on a Monday and went straight to casting. That same night, we selected an actress, Nicole Barre, rehearsed on Tuesday, shot on Wednesday at the Benachi House and wrapped on Thursday. On Friday, we were back on a plane to New York. During that short time, we were invited to the homes of two of our crew members who had known us for only a few days, an example of the extraordinary warmth and hospitality of the people of New Orleans.
Our New York casting director, Judy Bowman, found our “Male Voice”. Mario Brassard walked into the room and stunned us all by delivering his lines so perfectly and in the exact way I had always read them to others that it made me wonder if he was in fact able to read my mind. His recordings at HSR I NY took less than half an hour. The film’s mood was accentuated by the dreamlike, slightly uncanny score by Jody Gray and bookend theme by “Music Box Man”, John Morton, who handcrafted a music box on which to play his composition.
LE PARDON is a small, delicate film, a kind of a blink-of-an-eye story, a glimpse offering admission to a lover’s soul, a reflection on the art of listening and my personal hommage to the spiritually indestructible Crescent City..
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