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The making of La Trace

My only purpose is to convey a thought, a message, a question.
Getting to know Daniele Mannelli

director of LA TRACE (Footprints) which won an International Award
and the Best Acting prize for its star Jean-Michel Balthazar at BIAFF 2007.

"When I conceive a movie, my only purpose is to convey a thought, a message, a question. What is important for me that is that it is seen, a bit like a writer who writes so that someone can read it. It has never been my intention to create a story made to order for a festival or to please juries. If what I say in a movie also strikes a chord with a jury, that is a bonus, but it is not the purpose in making it.

"The latest news is that I have just read an email in which someone asks me to write a small piece about the movie so that it can be reported in the theatre magazine Le moderne in Liege, where the movie will be shown next June 21 for an evening debate. This movie has certainly hit the streets!"

Portrait of Daniele Mannelli.

Daniele Mannelli on La Trace - click here.

Portrait of Christiane Surdiacourt. In its English version the film carries a dedication to Christiane Surdiacourt.

Daniele Mannelli lives in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Christiane is from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. She often encourages non-commercial film makers to get their work seen in other festivals, other countries and other languages. She and her husband, Martin Bracke, are regular delegates at UNICA, the Festival of Nations, the Benelux Festival and many more - including BIAFF. She speaks Dutch, French, English and German and often helps IAC by translating for us, putting British film makers in touch with European festivals and European film makers in touch with BIAFF.

She encouraged Daniele Mannelli to take his work to more festivals, including ours. So how did they meet?

The first time I met Daniele Mannelli was in 2005 at the National competition for the French speaking Belgian amateur moviemakers in Binche.

I was invited by their national president to be one of the judges. At the end of that weekend I met him on my way to the cafeteria. He asked me my opinion about his movie La Trace. I was so impressed by it that we start a long friendly conversation. It seemed that, as far as movies are concerned, we felt like 'soul mates'.

He told me that he had entered it in the Benelux Film Festival in Ostend in May that same year. And? He became the big winner!!!

Daniele Mannelli being interviewed by Christiane Surdiacourt. From then on I advised him to enter La Trace in other festivals. In the meantime he asked me to look for an opportunity to show his movie in a Flemish club. I found an event in Limburg where his dream could come true. That's why I translated it into Dutch so that Daniel, with the help of a few bilingual friends, could do the subtitling. The 19th November 2005 was the big day. Martin, Daniel with club friends and I went to Peer (Limburg). On our arrival the secretary asked me to interview Daniel. His movie was going to close the event. He got an award from Jos Heynen. Daniele Mannelli receiving an award from Jos Heynen.

Daniele Mannelli being interviewed
by Christiane Surdiacourt.

Daniele Mannelli receiving an award
from Jos Heynen.

Weeks later Daniel invited me to his club (Royal Ciné Vidéo 8/16 - Liège) together with the crew of La Trace, family and friends. It was his way to thank me for the wonderful evening in Limburg.

In the French Festival 'Ose ce court' his movie got the award for the best acting. As each film could only get one prize it did not receive other awards there.

- Christiane Surdiacourt.

Daniel continues the story

After the projection of the movie at 'Ose ce court' a gentleman introduced himself and asked if I was the director of the movie La Trace He liked the movie a lot and explained that he was the promoter of a festival which was going to take place the following week. He asked me therefore if he could have the cassette of my movie so that he could show it at the same time as the award-winning professional feature film Le Fils by the brothers Dardenne as a movie prelude and to enliven a debate on human values, etc.

I agreed of course and asked that he let me know how the public reacted. To my great surprise, when the cassette was returned to me in Belgium, there was a note reporting that the public had voted it the "audience prize." That's the kind of story you dine out on, since I didn't even know that the movie was in competition at the festival !

Daniele Mannelli on La Trace - click here.

Still from 'La Trace' - featuring Jean-Michel Balthazar.

Jean-Michel Balthazar

He is best known for his professional feature films La Promesse (The Promise) and L'Enfant (The Child) by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne ("the brothers Dardenne") and Le Couperet (The Ax) by Constantin Costa-Gavras. To French TV viewers he is also known as the real Father Christmas in Christian Faure's Le Piège du Père Noël (The Santa Claus Trap).

He frequently works on stage in France and Belgium.

Still from 'La Trace' - featuring Jean-Michel Balthazar.

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Page updated on 09 October 2011
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