Marie Monge took inspiration for Directors’ Fortnight selection Joueurs, her first feature, from her own experiences in the world of gambling, with a desire to “write about a very masculine world from the point of view of a woman.”

At the age of 22, she had a friend who was a gambler and, with him, discovered Paris’s now mostly bygone casino circuit. Joueurs stars Tahar Rahim and Stacy Martin. The latter, a breakout in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, plays Ella, whose life is turned upside down when she meets Abel (Rahim). Irresistibly drawn to this elusive lover, the young woman discovers the cosmopolitan underground world of Paris’s gaming circles, where adrenaline and money reign supreme. Their love story begins as a mere bet, but turns into a devouring passion.

Monge did not attend film school but studied theory at university in Paris. She made shorts and worked on the films of friends in order to train. When it came to writing her first feature, she called on her earlier experiences in the milieu.

“I had met people who lived in this world and wanted to talk about it as a metaphor for addiction,” she says. The film is about “a young woman in love who becomes addicted” to a man. Monge wrote the role with Martin in mind and knew upon meeting Rahim he was “someone who could have a disarming charm and also a brutal maliciousness. He lights up a room when he enters.”