San Sebastian New Directors Buzz Title ‘Woman at Sea’, Broken Down by Star Director Dinara Drukarova


Starring in San Sebastián’s prestigious New Directors section, “Woman at Sea” (“Grand Marin”), a beautifully shot adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name, marks the directorial debut of Russian actress Dinara Drukarova, who also stars in the film.

Sold by Loco Films, “Woman at Sea” is produced by Marianne Slot and Carine LeBlanc of the Parisian company Slot Machine (“Melancholia”). Shot in Iceland, the film captures the struggle for integration and the search for self, all within the stunning yet cold seascapes of the film.

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Drukarova’s character, Lili, follows in the footsteps of the book’s author, Catherine Poulain, who spent 10 years working on fishing boats in Alaska, as shown in the book.

“Woman at Sea” is about a woman working on a boat. I understand that you live on a boat. Is there a link?

I lived on a boat for over 20 years. My children were born on the boat. The man I love was already living on the boat. I like living on a boat because it’s about the idea of ​​nomadism. Cast off the moorings. It’s so romantic. Living on a boat is like living in a very large living fish. Water gives you energy and soothes you. When I’m upset, I look at the river and say, “It will pass like the river.” You have no neighbors. So I can party until morning. However, the film was inspired by the book “Woman at Sea”.

How did the project start?

It all started with the book “Woman at sea”. When I read it, it shocked me. It was something crucial. It changed my life. Sometimes a book or a painting gives you an answer to a question you ask. I read it and I said: “I want to make the film”. For me, it was a metaphor, and a universal story of a human being who wants to give up everything and go to the end of the world to find out who she is. I found the number of the author Catherine Poulain and I met her. It was vital for me. It was something to me like I couldn’t live if I didn’t.

What inspired you in this true story?

Catherine inspired me. She is wild. The story of his life. She is a contemporary adventurer. She lived 10 years in Alaska. Then the immigration services caught up with her and sent her back to France. When I went to see her in Bordeaux, I spent an evening with her and we drank two bottles of rum. I said whatever happens I just want to thank you for writing this because it gave me what I needed to keep going. Two days later, she gave me the rights.

How was the shooting of the film, especially considering the pandemic?

It was a long road. It was very complicated. My producer said it was your first film, and it was an adaptation, and you had to work with someone established. But I was bowled over by the resulting script and said I had to write my own script. Then it was about finding the funding. Presentation of the project to the film commissions. It’s as if you were a prisoner and had your last word.

woman at sea

woman at sea

Why did you shoot in Iceland when the story takes place in Alaska?

In France, the rule is that if they finance it, 50% must be in French. The original story takes place in Alaska but I thought of Canada for that reason. But then COVID-19 happened and the Indian tank we wanted to shoot was locked down. Then my producer closed up shop. Instead, I proposed the project to Slot Machine. They said, “Let’s go to Iceland. I said “Why not?” It’s like the end of the world. We spent five months in Iceland starting in January 2021. It was COVID times. Everything was closed and it was so complicated.

How did you develop the style of the film?

I wanted poetry in the images. Poetry is very important in cinema.

I wrote to DP Timo Salminen. He is Finnish. He doesn’t really speak. He simply says “yes” or “no”. But he got it. When I first looked at him, I said he was my man. I looked at his eyes. He was my alter ego. We first made a short film and it worked. I am currently preparing a documentary. It is a triptych with “Woman at sea”. That will be the end, and then I’ll go do something else. Maybe become a sailor. Life is too short to do just one thing.

What was it like to star in the film and direct at the same time?

It’s something that I did in a very particular state of mind because it was an extreme concentration for me to play and direct because I didn’t want to lose anything.

What do you think of the result?

I wanted to defend freedom of expression in cinema. Not following tradition. I don’t want to take people for fools. The poetry and beauty of cinema and the arts, and the questions cinema can ask you was the most important thing to preserve and defend in making the film. He must be sincere. You had to be honest. To the point. And it was for all my love of cinema. It was a crazy thing to experience. I burned myself. I was in ashes afterwards. Like a Phoenix but it allowed me to be reborn. I hope I have done something that the public will feel with me. That it will resonate in their hearts, and they may ask a question and have something very personal to think about.

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