I hope that with the specificity of the character and world that we built within Rencontres Paysannes – Farmers Dating, we will be able to cross borders on our festival run
Alexandra (Alle) Hsu is a Chinese-American director/producer, born and raised in Southern California. She received her MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in Film Directing and Production. Prior to Tisch, Alle earned her BA from Scripps College, double majoring in Media Studies and Asian Studies. Her undergraduate thesis documentary received a museum grant in 2011 from the Pomona College Museum of Art, during their “China Insights” Exhibit. In graduate school, Alle co-wrote, directed, and produced the short film, “Sophie” in Hong Kong. “Sophie” had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival (FF), and its international premiere at the Foyle FF, both Oscar-Qualifying festivals. The film went on to screen at over 15 film festivals around the world. Hsu also directed another short, a 1960s period film, “Our Way Home,” in Long Island, N.Y. The film premiered at Oscar-Qualifying HollyShorts FF in 2018. Hsu is starting her festival run on two additional short films: “POP!,” her NYU thesis film, starring Emmy-nominated actress, Michelle Ang, and “Rencontres Paysannes” (“Farmers Dating”). This year, she directed a short film “Unread” for non-profit SafeBAE, which encourages peer-to-peer mentoring for teens for sexual awareness, in the in, she was a Directing Mentee in Women in Film’s Mentoring Program. Alle was named the Kearny Street Workshop Featured Artist in Film at the 20th APAture Arts Festival, where she was featured on NBC News. Alle was a filmmaker-in-residence in the SFFILM FilmHouse Residency (2019-2020), with her first feature film, Queens. In the last few months, she started to develop the treatment of the feature about her great-grandmother Zhang Youyi in the Cine Qua Non Storylines Lab, and was an Advisor for the Sundance Collab Directing Core Elements course.
Rencontres Paysannes – Farmers Dating offers a lighthearted look at what happens when a French farmer’s marriage dissolves and she is thrust back out into the dating market-this time online.
When I started working on this project, I was dating a Frenchman I had met in Singapore (a long, romantic story for another time). I’d half-jokingly told him that I was going to make a short film in France since he had a car there-in my opinion, if you have a car, you can do anything. My classmate Chris Vennemeyer and I had already begun work on a script; however, in the midst of writing, the Frenchman and I broke up.
The story morphed from a Frenchman in search of WiFi to communicate with his girlfriend abroad to Vietnamese dating review a heartbroken female farmer struggling to understand the new world of dating apps
I arrived in Dordogne, France, with some of my own crew from NYU Tisch. I ultimately hired a local crew and was able to put together an incredible cast, all of whom were bilingual. Of course, there were times when it was challenging to work with locals in some of the small towns where most people did not speak any English, but we found a way to make it work. In a pinch, hand gestures can go a long way!
Making this film was a journey through my own heartbreak. Filming in a country I didn’t know and a language I didn’t speak, seeking out new collaborators, and learning about rural France all at the same time was the therapy I didn’t even know I needed. I loved collaborating with the actors, incorporating their distinct acting styles-each of them had been trained in different schools of thought like Meisner, Strasberg, or Stanislavski-and working through their characters. It was important to me that they were authentic to the story and the characters’ world.
As an Asian American storyteller, I know what it’s like to have your culture and point of view misrepresented in the media; I wanted to ensure that I was being truthful by collaborating with the actors on their characters. That’s also what made making Rencontres Paysannes such an unforgettable experienceedies don’t always cross borders.