La Fracture will be released on October 27, 2021. Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, caregiver by profession, plays Kim, a nurse in an emergency department in Catherine Corsini’s film La Fracture. Through this feature film, the director wanted to denounce the social divide. Much more the film also denounces the critical state of the hospitals and the lack of means and staff.
From Aïssatou the caregiver in life to Kim the nurse on screen
Dolce Group: What do you and Kim, your character in the film, have in common?
Aïssatou Diallo Sagna : We are both black women, mothers and caregivers, it’s already quite a lot of common points exhausted by the system squarely.
DG: What do you think are the strengths of your profession that you found in Catherine Corsini’s script and direction?
ADS: I would say, listening, listening to patients, the fact that even if we are overwhelmed, we will still try to take the time to provide the necessary care and the necessary listening especially to the patients who are there, inform the accompanying persons. What I also find is team spirit. We are in the same boat. So we have a crazy life, but we go and do the work.
DG: It is true that filming is a work of several months and with a team that we find daily, for those who would never have come on a stage.
Did you have to treat yellow vests in the exercise of your caregiver function? Yes, yes, did this experience help you to play your character, Kim?
ADS: So, I did deal with patients who came to the emergency room, following demonstrations, yellow vest demonstrations a few months ago. Now, I would say, no, because I always try to adapt to the patient, but a patient is a patient I don’t look at: Does he come from the sixteenth? Does he have a yellow vest?” … Well, the homeless guy, unfortunately, you can see that. But we take him anyway. I wouldn’t say it helped me. My job helped me to play my role, that’s for sure. But the fact that I wore yellow vests before, no.
DG: We think of the reply that Catherine Corsini stressed at the press conference in Cannes. The fact that you changed the text a little bit during the «unpacking» of Yann’s leg in the film.
ADS: Yes it is true, after all there are terms that we use, without paying attention and that are terms of our own jargon. As much as the directors as the writers and the people on the set they had their own way of speaking, their own jargon, so we in the hospital are the same. And it is true that there were a few small sentences like that, a few ways of saying or even doing. We made proposals that were totally accepted by Catherine, whose, as you say, story of unpacking the leg, unpacking the bandage, that’s still a term for us.
DG: As a caregiver, how did you perceive the screenplay by Catherine Corsini and then the film once it was edited?
ADS: So I read the script the first time in one go. I really read it in one go. I was lucky, I wasn’t disturbed, the kids were busy. So I read the whole book, I loved it, but it’s true that I was embarking on an adventure for the shot because I had no experience in theatre, as an actress, I got into it and I loved it.
I loved playing that role and it is true that it is rather flattering to be offered such a role. My role, the character of Kim, is enormously valued. She is a very courageous woman, exhausted, mother of a little girl of a few months, who is also suffering that day.
She shouldn’t have been working, she’s chained up, she’s chained up nights, she’s chained up nights because of lack of manpower and that, for the moment, I recognized myself because then I certainly didn’t chained up six nights because I don’t work at night, But I saw myself after my shift going back to work because the executive calls me and says, “Listen, there’s a shortage of people, is that all you can come up with?” That, indeed, has happened to me many times, it has even sometimes caused me problems with my spouse.
DG: What memories do you keep of this first filming experience?
ADS: I have a lot of souvenirs in the box, I really loved that I participated with the management, with the props, I call them the MC Gavers of filming. They’re there, we tell them we need this, they run right, left, they make something, and we get it. It is true that I liked to bring a little, not my knowledge but my knowledge of emergencies, I still did seven years in a general emergency service.
And it is true that I was a little bit at heart to bring the most «true» in fact to this shooting. Already, to make us credible with the caregivers who know. There have been a lot of films where, for example, you go to see a person in cardiac arrest and then you go to see a beautiful, fresh lady who is going to massage and who is absolutely not going to move her body. So here we know, that we are very far from reality, a CPR is dynamic, it’s violating. It’s true that I loved it. The CPR scene was really cool to do it because we thought we were on duty and I had colleagues around me, I had nurses, caregivers. And there was even a counselor on the film who is a senior doctor in the emergency room of Lariboisière who was with us child who was with us on the scene of the resuscitation. So we would have really believed it. It was really good. And another memory there is a little bit out of the adrenaline because this is the scene where I get mugged. So that was a harder one because, when it comes to playing a caregiver, I didn’t have too many difficulties, but there it was necessary to let go, to break down all the barriers. I had to hurt first. I, Aïssatou, I hurt so that Kim could then show the emotions I felt. So it took a little while.
DG: Did the help of Catherine Corsini help with this scene?
ADS: No, no, we tried several times. So at first it wasn’t obvious because I, in addition to my character, in my more intimate life and in relation to the experiences I lived, created a little bubble around me to protect myself so as not to make the loopholes too big for others. We still live in a not very nice world and when we show too much emotion sometimes we regret it. So we had to break the bubble and I got there and Catherine was very happy with the result.
So she was adorable because she didn’t want to push me too hard. As you know, she’s not used to playing with nonactors, but as a result she really let me take my time, get to catch some emotions. She didn’t force it, I was the one who insisted we do it again. She even suggested that we move on and come back. And I actually said, “I might as well do it now, I think we’re close to it, so let’s keep going.”
DG: But I think it was his wish that there was a real caregiver in the role of Kim.
ADS: Ah no, no, no at the beginning of the role Kim, she thought that she would be a «real» actress because of her scenes where we still expect an emotion, fear, tears, and that was a little bit the challenge of the film. Which is why before, when I knew I was gonna play Kim, we had a couple of coaching sessions with the casting director. We met a couple of times before the shoot started to do what we call emotional coaching sessions. Because precisely Catherine was afraid that for these scenes it would be more complicated.
DG: What does Aïssatou bring you or brought you this experience in your life?
ADS: I think I’ve gained a little more self-confidence. It is true that in our profession we are not really valued, we are not really considered and we are very poorly paid, we do hours to finish. The ER is still a very specific service, we have to manage the large flow of patients, the aggressiveness of the patients, the worry of the attendants, so all this is not simple. After a few years, we store, store and create a certain amount of fatigue. And there, as Catherine says in the press kit, she said a very true sentence: “I think I gave her a career promotion.” It means a lot of things, because she trusted me and it helped me a lot. I gained confidence, in fact as a result of the film I changed jobs, I changed institutions after seventeen years, which is not nothing. And I think it’s all connected. And now it turns out that I’m still in an emergency department, but then on a smaller scale, with people rather, with rather autonomous patients.
DG: In this very special period, many films on the general theme of health are released in theatres. I am thinking in particular of the films Tout s’est bien passé by François OZON or De son vivant by Emmanuelle Bercot. These two films were also presented at the seventy-fourth edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Do you think that the pandemic played a role in bringing more fictions on this topic to the screen?
ADS: Inevitably, I think so. There was the pandemic effect, there was the Covid effect. People obviously felt concerned. We’ve all had a family member, a member of our environment who has necessarily caught the virus or unfortunately made a stay in the hospital, so I think, yes, it’s closely related, yeah, absolutely.
DG: Did you have a bit of the same pressure between the hospital and turning into a pandemic in a setting that recreates a hospital? Is it the same stress, is it different?
ADS: I haven’t been stressed at all, actually. Of course I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but since the first day of the casting, from the very first day of this adventure, it’s like there are two little hands behind my back that push me saying: “Go ahead and have no fear, fear nothing, just be yourself.” And that’s kind of my line of conduct that I still take today. And I had the chance to be extraordinarily accompanied, whether by the director, by the production, by the other actors, known or less known. I’d say we, as caregivers, if you will, meet again. I imagine that if you end up with fifteen journalists, it will be a “match” because there will necessarily be one common to all of you. That’s exactly what happened to me in addition, with people who had all attended the emergency room. So we necessarily had anecdotes in common. For me, I had a bunch of colleagues with me. I only knew them a few days. That’s really how I saw it.
DG: A bit like a tension between your two establishments where you work before and after the film?
ADS: Yeah, that’s kind of it, absolutely. It is true that when you arrive in an environment that you do not know, you relate a little to what you know. So it’s true that for me it was a set, but it looked very much like an emergency service, so I was still comfortable in my shoes. It’s a universe I know.
DG: Well, thank you for answering our questions for Dolce Magazine.
ADS: Thanks to you