Leo Berne and Raphael Rodriguez interview: ‘Censor of Dreams’
The live-action short film from writers and directors Léo Berne and Raphaël Rodriguez, “Censor of Dreams” (also known as “Le Censeur des Rêves”) had its world premiere at the 2021 Warsaw Film Festival and focuses on a team of people who try to block their host’s painful dreams and memories. After winning the Academy Award-qualifying Grand Prize at the aforenamed festival, the Iconoclast-produced film has now been shortlisted for the 2022 Oscars. In our exclusive video (watch above), Berne and Rodriguez shed light on the process of making the well-known titular theory literal, of trimming dialogue from their original screenplay, and of creating fiction versus directing music videos and commercials.
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Inspired by the book “Yume no ken’estukan” by Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui, “Censor of Dreams” takes a brief glimpse into the life of a man (Damien Bonnard) who moderates the dreams of his host, a young woman (Yôko Higashi). The dark comedy’s concept is rooted in Sigmund Freud‘s theory of dream censorship, the disguising in dreams of unconscious wishes that would be disturbing to the ego if allowed conscious expression. Berne elaborates, “When you are dreaming, there are a lot of things coming from your subconscious/from your memories that… you just don’t want to hear about… And basically, Freud [developed] a theory that there is a sort of censor that is trying to change all those things and to make them different because you don’t want to see them.”
In regard to adapting the source material and crafting the screenplay, Berne expounds that the initial script had the characters explaining many of their actions. Since there is no reason for the characters to be doing so, however, such narration would make the story too pedestrian, if not theatrical, according to Berne. Hence, he and Rodriguez ultimately decided to cut dialogue from the script and instead find a way to visualize its content. While this approach would consequently make it more difficult for the audience to understand the characters’ actions, the core intention behind this creative decision was to implicitly ask viewers to be “attentive to details and make their own understanding [of said actions] somehow.”
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“Censor of Dreams” doesn’t see the first collaboration between Berne and Rodriguez. Alongside Clément Gallet and Charles Brisgand, they founded the collective Megaforce in 2008 and have directed campaigns and music videos for Rihanna, Madonna and Kid Cudi, among many others. “It’s really different, [but] not totally,” says Rodriguez about creating fiction, as opposed to directing music videos and commercials. He continues, “The big difference [is that] a music video comes from an artist [and] a commercial from a brand… When you do fiction, [however], it has to come from you.”
Also in our exclusive video interview, Berne and Rodriguez discuss casting and working with their actors, the film’s overall aesthetic, and how working on this project could influence future creative endeavors.