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Paris by Lyna Khoudri

Actress Lyna Khoudri in a Nouvelle vague atmosphere à la Jean-Luc Godard
Reading time 6 minutes

All the spotlight is on the debut of the film "The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun" by director Wes Anderson and inevitably on the young Franco-Algerian actress Lyna Khoudri, who plays Juliette.

When I made the film, I still hadn't received Mounia Meddour's César for“ Papicha”. Wes had never seen me on a screen before. It all started with a video to be sent to production. One night I filmed myself with my cell phone. I had to introduce myself, tell about my militant actions. I talked about participating in a job at my high school in Saint-Ouen: I skipped classes and went dancing on the street with my friends." Three weeks later, Lyna passes her first casting in Paris without knowing anything about the role. While waiting for a response from the production, he shoots a short film with friends in Algeria. “It was my first time in the desert, I was amazed. The rest of the world seemed far away to me. One night I finally checked my emails. My agent was looking all over me to tell me I was caught. But I still didn't know anything about my role! Nor who my partners would have been." Lyna thus finds herself in Angoulême, for costume rehearsals. The treasure hunt to discover his character continues. “There was mystery about everything. Each cast name was incredible... Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand. And I only realized later that Timothée Chalamet would play my boyfriend". On set, Lyna has only her lines, about fifteen pages. “Then I got my share of the script, which was forty pages, but never the full plot. Only the technical team had it. I once ran into Bill Murray who told me about his shooting of the day ... Together we were able to understand a bit of the story. But only at the final screening did I discover the plot in its entirety".

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In "The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun" Lyna Khoudri plays Juliette, a student living a surreal May of 1968. With a motorcycle helmet on her head, she is fighting for her rights as an independent and determined woman who constantly quarrels with her boyfriend (Timothée Chalamet) who is also very socially engaged. During filming, every evening in the hotel the atmosphere is that of a large cinema. “There were always several DVDs available to us in the lobby. One evening Wes said to me: "Have you seen Jean Renoir's" A trip to the countryside?" "No". "Then look at it." So I went into my room and looked at it immediately. After that I threw myself on Jacques Rivette's “Le Pont du Nord”. It was the reference point for my role, especially the motorcycle helmet and leather jacket of the heroine played by Pascale Ogier. Juliette is as rebellious as Ogier in the film. And then “Le Pont du Nord” is a bit magical. It fed me. It is impressive to see Wes' love of French popular culture. He knows exactly how to dialogue. Everything is controlled. His accuracy is impressive".

After Anderson's film, Lyna played the sunny and spontaneous role of Diana in Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh's short film “Gagarine”. "This is a humanistic film about the peripheries. A dreamlike and positive job". Lyna also grew up in the suburbs. "I was born in Algeria in 1992, in the middle of the dark decade of extremism. With my family we had to leave the country. My father, a very busy journalist, was in danger. But my political consciousness was born with the riots of 2005. A factory burned down in front of my house. We had to sleep in the hotel for a week. At that moment I understood that I was on the side of the revolt". But Lyna doesn't give up. "When you are in Algiers, you feel the soul of the city, the Ottoman Empire, Haussmann's France, the last fifty years more Arabian ". This blend of cultures is written in Lyna's soul. And for her Algeria is also history and, in particular, colonization. "The war and the Algerian colonization are a horrible folly. I have read a thousand books on the subject that led me to discover Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon ... These protest writers made me grow. I understood where I came from and who I really am thanks to them".

Algeria and the East are tattooed on the inside of Lyna's wrist. "It is a hand of Fatima. I chose it because I am very superstitious: it rejects bad energies". On the other wrist a bracelet of red thread with a pearl. “My mother loves cultured pearls. I've only had cultured pearls as a birthday present since I was born, and the red thread in the Jewish religion is a symbol of protection." Today Lyna is preparing her next role in a still top secret international film. “Two hours of swimming and one hour of weight lifting a day. It's much more intense than my ten years of modern jazz... I wanted to be a dancer. It was my passion before cinema". Five minutes after having spent hours talking about cinema, Lyna sends me a text message: "Obviously among my cult is François Truffaut's" Adele H. - A love story "... she is part of me".

Photographer Marili Andre
Stylist Vanessa Bellugeon
Hair Stylist Nabil Harlow
Make up Artist Gregoris
Photographer Assistant Enzo Le Hen
Stylist Assistant Cindy Lucas

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