Guest Friday at the 44e edition of the Mediterranean Film Festival, in Montpellier, the filmmaker confided that he had reworked the film which had sparked controversy in Cannes three years ago.
Would his crossing of the desert finally come to an end? Franco-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche, lost sight of for three years, is actively working on the release of the last two parts of his trilogy Mektoub My Lovehe explained Friday at the Festival of Mediterranean Cinema (Cinémed) in Montpellier, where his arrival aroused the anger of feminist demonstrators.
The 61-year-old director, Palme d’Or in 2013 for The Life of Adele had not appeared in public since the 72e edition of the Cannes Film Festival, in 2019. The film he was presenting then, Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo, had created unease among festival-goers due to very raw sex scenes, including cunnilingus lasting almost thirteen minutes. The actress Ophélie Bau, nominated for the César for her performance in the first part of Mektoub My Love – Canto Uno (2016), had climbed the steps but had slipped away before the screening of the film.
Since, Intermezzo like Kechiche had pretty much disappeared from the radar. Without pouring out on the state of progress of the film, the director had promised to modify the assembly to rule out the plans which would interfere with his actress. A third part was also planned. So many points to which the filmmaker returned on Friday.
“They are filmed, they are editing, reassembling. I’ve been spending my time there for all these years. I did practically only that: going up, going up, trying… I hope soon the end of Mektoub»explained Abdellatif Kechiche during an exchange in front of several hundred spectators of the Cinémed, of which he is one of the guests of honor. “I also write screenplays, but I’m not sure yet which one I’m going to tackle soon in prep, casting, etc.”he added, suggesting that he would probably shoot again in this Occitanie region where he “feel good”.
Before and after this master-class, about twenty people demonstrated in front of the convention center to denounce the director’s visit, accusing him of “Sexism” in his way of filming women and denouncing his working methods which would amount to harassment. “The work with actors and actresses sometimes goes wonderfully well, and then sometimes it can also go very badly”recognized the director, saying however that he preferred that the “linen washes in family”.
Returning to the progress of the projection of Mektoub my love: Intermezzo at Cannes in 2019, he claimed that he “was not aware at the time of what happened” that night: “I didn’t know that the two actors most concerned with the film had left. Otherwise, the screening would not have taken place., he assured. A few feminist activists then interrupted him from the ranks of the public, chanting “Here too, we get up and break”in reference to the startling departure of Adèle Haenel during the César 2020 after a prize awarded to Roman Polanski.
Invited to speak at the microphone, one of them denounced his arrival, pointing out in particular that he had been the subject of a complaint for sexual assault (Editor’s note: closed in 2020). “I think you are serving the cause you are supposed to defend”replied the filmmaker calmly. “We fight as we want”, replied the young woman. “I believe that the films I make have spoken and that I don’t need to make a speech on these films for (that people understand) that everything I am accused of is truly stupid”then sighed the director.