NFTS graduation documentary, Acta Non Verba, directed and shot by Yvann Yagchi and produced by Fawzia Mahmood has been selected for this year’s Locarno Film Festival and is being screened from Friday 11th August at 2pm – full information on screenings here. The film has also been shortlisted for a prestigious Grierson award.
Acta Non Verba synopsis:
On October 6th, 2012, at approximately midnight, a Swiss banker, Michel Yagchi, committed suicide in the basement of his house in Geneva. That evening, Michel’s entire family was out of the country, travelling to Brussels to attend the graduation of Michel’s eldest son Yvann. Three years later, Yvann decided to start investigating his father’s mysterious suicide, concurrently confronting his family and his father’s friends and colleagues.
We caught up with the film’s director, Yvann to find out more about his very personal story and how he went about tackling such a difficult subject:
Acta Non Verba is based around a very personal story and deals with a tough subject matter – what were the reasons behind you wanting to centre your documentary around the story of your father’s suicide?
“The mystery surrounding my father’s death was the main driver of the film. Why did my father kill himself? And why did he kill himself so violently? What were the reasons - both in terms of his own character and in relation to our family? What was my relationship with him? And how did his work as a Swiss private banker push him, one night, to end his life?”
Did you find that making the film was a cathartic process and helped you deal with the grieving process?
“It was certainly cathartic but it wasn’t something I was telling myself as I went about filming and questioning people. The film took four years to make but I think the grieving process ended after two years through filming. After that, I wanted to make an actual film, not just film people, and I wanted to tell a story. Then the more time that elapsed, the more difficult it became to remember the real drive to make the film. Showing the film, as it came together, was also part of the grieving process. Putting a story out into the world allowed me to communicate emotions to other people, external to my family or friends.”
How important is it to raise awareness of how suicide affects the people left behind?
“It is extremely important. I can only speak for myself, but I think awareness has to be raised through communication about death and suicide. If my father had told me he wanted to die, perhaps we could have talked about it and maybe I would have accepted it but maybe he wouldn’t have done it. There is a huge taboo surrounding death and suicide, and I wanted to put these questions out there because I think that speaking about it, demystifying death and even sometimes laughing about it can help. Suicide is viewed as something unmentionable because it’s always related to the victim’s secrets which could easily affect the people left behind. Of course, there are so many different cases. But, again, widening the discussion around death can only help. The norms surrounding death, especially in the West, need to change.”
What do you want the viewing audience to take away from watching Acta Non Verba?
“I want the audience to identify in some way with my story and reflect on their own lives.”
What kinds of documentaries do you want to make now that you’ve graduated?
“I’ve been lucky enough to have been working on a documentary for the BBC since I graduated in February. I love the visual aspect of documentaries. And I love to do the filming myself. Concerning my own projects, I want to retain the personal dimension of my next films while also speaking of other issues. I’m especially interested in developments in the Arab world, and want to focus on relationships between people, the codes that connect people in this part of the world and those in the West. I also want to move into drama and fiction, in which I think I’ll be able to continue to talk about death, grief and family relationships.”
Aurora Vögeli – Editor; Hosea Ntaborwa - Sound Recordist; Morgan Muse - Sound Designer; Segun Akinola – Composer
For more information please visit https://pardo.ch/pardo/program/film.html?fid=968681&eid=70