[Entrevue] “A story of love and desire”: a new manhood

Maybe you don’t even know her name: Leyla Bouzid. But, believe us, he is already one of the filmmakers to follow. His first feature film was able to attract attention. I could barely open my eyes, released in 2015, won the Audience Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Lumière Award for Best Francophone Film. In his second feature film, he strikes again: he ended Critics ’Week 2021 at Cannes and won the Best Film Prize at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival. It’s called the new nugget A story of love and desire. The Tunisian director thus offers our captivated eyes a sensuality that almost burns the film.

Ahmed was a son of Parisian estates, from immigration. Her parents came to France from Algeria in hopes of finding a better life there. And at 18, Ahmed made them proud by joining the Sorbonne, where he decided to study Arabic poetry. There he met Farah, a Tunisian who had come to study in Paris. The young man immediately fell under his spell. At the same time as he discovers an erotic literature he does not suspect exists, Ahmed, overwhelmed by his love for Farah, fights against the desire he has instilled in him.

Tell a man trajectory

“If you’re a director, you have the impression that nothing is being said that you’re telling women’s stories, Leyla Bouzid was angry. There’s a kind of simplification, as a woman can only tell a woman that passage, which is unreasonable. […] There, I just want to watch, to film a young man who experiences his first emotions, and accept the fact that I don’t know him completely, accept his share of the mystery that has escaped me . »

If you’re a director, you have the impression of not telling that you’re telling women’s stories. There is a kind of simplification, as a woman can only speak in a woman’s way, which is unreasonable. […] There, I just want to watch, to film a young man who experiences his first emotions, and accept the fact that I don’t know him completely, accept his share of the mystery that has escaped me .

Writing Ahmed’s character presents a major challenge for Bouzid. Not because he’s a man, but because it’s an interior image, where Ahmed’s only opponent in his desire for Farah is himself. “We’re all in chains, we all have to free ourselves from something,” the director said. Often, for women, it is more visible, more outward. Men also have an emancipation trajectory to do, but it’s more internal, because there’s a whole war being started to try to fit an image that’s more confined. »

Erotisize the man

When we think of cinema sensuality, in many of the introductions that almost serve as the rule, we think of women. We thought of Rita Hayworth slowly removing her glove Ritato Brigitte Bardot naked revealing her handcuffs on contempt. We may continue to be like this for a long time. Until we met the camera of Leyla Bouzid, who was equally interested, along A story of love and desireto masculinity lust.

“With the photo director, we were looking for a little erotic scene […]. I thought a lot The piano lesson from Jane Campion, to Shiele’s paintings, the director recalls. From the very beginning, it was a matter of erotizing the man’s body and filling the whole film with sensuality. […] It should work with all materials, including colors, that are close to the body. This is the real center of the film’s aesthetic. »

The strength of the Arab woman

At the heart of the film, there is also the woman. on I could barely open my eyes, Leyla Bouzid made us discover the youth of Tunisia before the revolution, with the force suppressed by the State and society, through the character of Farah. A first name meaning “joy” in Arabic and where he once again adorns his hero A story of love and desire. “Writing screenplay forA story of love and desire, I was able to focus on the male character, and when I imagined the female character, Farah somewhat imposed herself on me again. they [les deux Farah] For me they have the same traits, the same traits. So, quite naturally, I continued to have this attitude, which I found interesting that he met Ahmed. »

These two Farahs allow the director to think about the place of women in Arab society. “It’s about saying that there are a lot of strong women in the Arab world, because they are in charge of a lot of things, because they have to impose themselves to exist. That’s why what I’m showing are very strong ones. women, who are still driving their desires, their destiny.These are the characters that interest me so much and I like, in A story…, Dealing with men who have difficulty managing their desire. I also want to offer photos of men who have the right to be vulnerable, skeptical, hesitant. I want to show new manhood. […] The masculinity of Arab men has always been viewed as a very high form of masculinity, so I wanted to offer one more thing. »

A story of love and desire to hit theaters on June 17.

A story of love and desire

Drama by Leyla Bouzid with Sami Outalbali and Zbeida Belhajamor. France, 2020, 102 minutes. In theaters June 17

To be seen in the video

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