Nadia Ben Rachid

No birth date available.

Nadia Ben Rachid is a Franco-Tunisian editor who has worked for twenty years with Abderrahmane Sissako on his films, such as Waiting for Happiness, Bamako and Life on Earth. She won a César as well as Best Editing at FESPACO for Sissako’s latest film, Timbuktu. Ben Rachid has edited numerous documentaries, including all of Anne Aghion’s films, including the 2005 Emmy winner In Rwanda We Say…The Family That Does Not Speak Dies. She recently edited Shirin Neshat’s Looking for Oum Kulthum.

“There are treasures in the footage that must be managed carefully as this is what captures the viewer’s attention. It must be presented in small doses. A film is like promising the viewer something based on a time frame and a story. The viewer is generous but one should not go too far. My role is there, when there is discussion, for bringing it to its potential. I consider myself the first spectator of the film.”

“I am probably as bored as anyone else in life, even more; I think that this is a quality for an editor. There are so many things to do during editing! I have to be very organized; it is the only way to keep a clear head. Hence, I can be totally involved and concentrated.”
—Two extracts from an interview with Ben Rachid by Djia Mambu. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.


Françoise Bonnot

1939 – 2018

Françoise Bonnot, with forty-eight film credits, was the daughter of Monique Bonnot, who edited many films for Jean-Pierre Melville. Her first credit was as the assistant to her mother on his Two Men in Manhattan. When her mother became unavailable, Bonnot edited his Army of Shadows. In 1968, she began her thirty-year eight film collaboration with Costa-Gavras. The first was Z. Bonnot won an Oscar for Z and a BAFTA for Missing. She also edited Polanski’s The Tenant and worked with Julie Taymor on films such as Frida and The Tempest.

“Americans say that the writer is the first editor, and the editor is the last writer. This is an apt formulation. You have to intentionally (re)organize the images to extract their essence, to expose the meaning. That’s where everything gets complicated: if a word betrays you, you can always replace it. But an image is fixed on the film reel, it is irreplaceable. One must then manipulate it, weave it, cut it, rethink it, etc.”

“It’s a mistake to think that [we alter images]. But perhaps that mistake is part of the legend about editing. The image is not so naïve, it’s alive, full and complete, it subscribes to a certain logic. To the one who examines it, who listens, and manipulates it gently, at times with charm, it affirms its reason for being. It imposes its melody by itself. All the shots, taken separately, and later arranged together, remind me of my own need, my desire, and my will to follow the footage through its appearance in the world….I alternate between being the guide, the copilot, the censor, the audience, etc. It’s an incessant relay game….To speak of editing is to speak of love. I’ll repeat myself. Intuition, fusion, fury, momentum, tenderness, rhythm. The important thing is to do it, to make the movie with sincerity. A beautiful film, isn’t it primarily an authentic film? It’s an adventure. Us, lovers of images, we are looking for excellence. No words suffice to explain this juggling act which a breath can transport, transcend or complete.”
—Two excerpts from an interview with Françoise Bonnot by Sonia Bressler. The full interview (in French and in English) can be found in the Appendix.


Halina Ketling-Prugar

Born 1929

Halina Ketling-Prugar began editing for Polish directors in 1958 and has fifty-one credits. She edited the films of Andrzej Wajda for over twenty years, including Everything for Sale, Man of Marble, The Wedding, Landscape After Battle, and Man of Iron. Ketling-Prugar also edited Knife in the Water by Roman Polanski. In 2016, she received the “Gloria Artis”—the Medal for Merit to Culture awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

“When the director selected the shots, it was sacred and I did not protest. Often, however, it was necessary to do a trailer, which was my work and I always used material that I chose. The director, when watching the trailer, asked why those shots were not in the movie. ‘Because you did not choose them,’ I replied.
Thanks to this approach the directors later asked me to share my insights and were open to my suggestions.”


You worked with Andrzej Wajda on many of his best movies. How was your collaboration?
“Usually, it went like this: After shooting we went to the bar and he explained to me which effect he wanted to achieve. I really tried to understand and feel what he was saying. He even said once that no one understands him as I do. However, he never recognized me and my work publicly. Even worse, he kept saying that he does the editing himself in the evenings. My friends were saying: ‘Look, your Wajda says that he is editing, but we never see him working with you.’ I have never commented on their remarks, however. I learned how to edit while working on his movies because he let me work independently. In fact, everyone learns most when working alone, by making mistakes and working independently – not by sitting with a director.”


“I don’t know. Editing is still treated as an auxiliary creative profession. In a way, it is true, because this profession requires skilled handiwork and familiarity with the technique. However, I know that I have helped many directors in an artistic way and that thanks to my work their movies were a bit better. If they want to be the only real artists, however, let them be so.”
—Three extracts from “About Film Editing: A Conversation with Halina Ketling-Prugar” by Paweł Makowski. The full interview can be found in the Appendix