Translated from French by Beti Ellerson, a collaboration with Africine.org. Photos: Africine.org
En français : http://www.africine.org/?menu=art&no=12506
Nadia Ben Rachid has collaborated on the films of internationally renowned directors, such as Sissako, Benguigui, Bouchareb, Allouache, El Fani or Polanski. Nadia Ben Rachid considers herself to be the first spectator of the film.
Nadia Ben Rachid a collaboré sur les œuvres de réalisateurs de renommée internationale tels que Sissako, Benguigui, Bouchareb, Allouache, El Fani ou encore Polanski. Nadia Ben Rachid se considère comme étant la première spectatrice du film.
This meeting with the esteemed editor took place at the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur, where Timbuktu and Le Challat de Tunis, won the highest honours.
Rencontre avec une sacrée monteuse au Festival International du Film Francophone à Namur où Timbuktu et Le Challat de Tunis, ont décroché les consécrations suprêmes. (La suite à africine.org)
Djia Mambu: It is an extraordinary year for Timbuktu and Le Challat de Tunis (Challot of Tunis), two films that you have worked on.
Nadia Ben Rachid: Le Challat de Tunis, I was contacted by Kaouther [Ben Henia] for her documentary Les imams vont à l'école (Imams go to school). But unfortunately I did not edit it since I was not available... She wanted us to work together, to work with someone experienced and who understands the Tunisian language. For Timbuktu, I was very happy that Abderrahmane [Sissoko] called on me again, as I have edited all of his films since 1996. For this film, he changed his entire team except me! It has been a long-time collaboration and he has been very loyal to me, I am very grateful for the confidence he has in me.
DM: How would you describe the role of the editor today?
NBR: Today the editor’s role varies a lot, depending on whether it is a documentary or fiction. I am dealing with a film project that belongs to a director; I must shape it into a harmonious, fluid idea. My role is to condense this boundless material into a specified timespan. From this I must structure a narrative and rhythm, according to the director’s vision and intentions; and render this thing (the film) accessible. My approach must be effective; I must pay attention to what is being said, to what is important from what is boring.
There are treasures in the footage that must be managed carefully as this is what captures the viewer's attention. It must be presented in small doses. A film is like promising the viewer something based on a timeframe and a story. The viewer is generous but one should not go too far. My role is there, when there is discussion, bringing it to its potential. I consider myself the first spectator of the film.
NBR: I became an editor after ten years working as assistant editor on 35mm (on cellulloid and not on a computer), that is to say, I was doing exactly by hand what the computer does today: cutting and taping, white gloves, etc. The first film was Pirates by Roman Polanski in 1985, during the time when Tarak Ben Ammar directed superb productions in Tunisia. I was hired as a "local" intern! As I was very passionate and very serious, they took me to Paris to finish the film. So I followed Roman Polanski on three films, and then Claude Berri, etc.
DM: What characteristic defines the role of editor?
NBR: I am probably as bored as anyone else in life, even more; I think that this is a quality for an editor. There are so many things to do during editing! I have to be very organised; it is the only way to keep a clear head. Hence, I can be totally involved and concentrated.
DM: What have been your most wonderful experiences as an editor?
NBR: Without any doubt, the films of Abderrahmane Sissako are my best experiences. With him I am working in the profession doing what I dreamed of. With him I edited Sabriya, Life on Earth, Heremakono: Waiting for Happiness, Bamako and Timbuktu. He is my favourite director! He knows perfectly his craft. Music is present, it is a great pleasure to have his images and his universe, he is unique.
DM: what kind of film would you like to work on in the near future?
NBR: My next editing job will be a comedy, a genre that I have not really encountered. I would love for it to be a success and hear the whole theatre filled with laughter.
Interview by Djia Mambu, in Namur, October 2014