At the end of Critics’ Week, A story of love and desire blew a wind of poetry and desire on the Croisette. We met its director Leyla Bouzid and her two sensual, accomplices and inspired actors.
AlloCiné: How was your desire for this particular film born and what did you like about it?
Then being myself Tunisian and having grown up in Tunisia, for me he was necessarily of North African origin. Crystallized around that, the birth of the feeling of love with the discovery of literature. Ahmed has an inner resistance and I wanted to place myself in this quest for identity. I wanted him to face these texts and a culture that he ignored, and that it mixes with his restraint.
The idea was to put diversity within what is called diversity in France.
Ahmed has built his identity in a scheme that is often constructed in the suburbs of France. He has a problem of roots, of origins, he could not go there, did not receive the language. His parents did not find their place in France so they neither had the time nor the possibility to transmit their perspective on their identity so he assimilated things received.
I have tried to build a community that escapes clichés. I wanted to be as fair as possible characters. Suburban girls have very strong personalities and don’t need to be portrayed as victims. “
Sami Outalbali : “I liked the distance that immediately existed between my character and myself. I liked her contradictions, her struggles and the way Leyla Bouzid showed them without settling them all, leaving some some because life is that. Even if we meet someone who changes us, we cannot change at all.
I loved Ahmed’s childhood, something that we don’t show enough. Yes, a young boy can meet a girl who is more open, very attentive to his desires, desires, who has never put up any barriers or has been intelligent enough to remove them.
It is a magnificent bias. It is a breeze cliché that highlights them to overcome them. In particular, there is a total ignorance of the Arab world for its young people who live in France, grow up in neighborhoods, who suffer from a lack of communication and therefore information, and who suddenly form opinions with their friends who have themselves. even gaps and images of the Arab world, of the Arab woman, arose. Farah comes in and takes it all down, gets everyone on time. I got caught up in it all in the script. “
Zbeida Belhajamor : “The idea of eroticizing the male body spoke to me a lot at the beginning then to show this contrast with the character of Farah compared to Ahmed; that she be someone free, liberated who lives things intensely , which is fiery, compared to the reserved side of Ahmed. “
The film recalls that there is no word in Arab culture to describe the state of love. How does he define and therefore differentiate love, desire and frustration?
Sami Outalbali: “The film shows that it’s not as simple as ‘wanting and giving in.’ It’s a thousand times more complicated for my character and I think for a lot of people. He wants but something else in him. says no. When that other thing finally says yes, the desire is no longer there. It is so contained that it becomes denial.
Zbeida Belhajamor : “Farah feels that Ahmed wants her, she wants to go towards him but without throwing herself on him because he is reserved. She goes through the desire to go towards the other, the envy of the other and through the feeling of rejection. “
In Arab culture, there are a hundred words and many nuances to describe love
Leyla Bouzid : “Ahmed needs the time of the film to get to the end of things. I wanted this openness to awakening and put it at the heart of a film. In terms of cinema, it was at the heart of our work. with the director of photography and the artistic team: how to film desire, poetic eroticism, retained desire We did not have a reference film, there was real research to question ourselves and find how to film that.
We did very few rehearsals between the two actors to preserve their palpable chemistry. They crossed paths for costume tests but they didn’t socialize too much on set outside of their stages to maintain this kind of tension that circulated between them.
In Arab culture, there are 100 words and many nuances indeed to describe love. The Arabic vocabulary carries with it all these nuances and I found it interesting to represent them in the cinema, that the film takes charge of a form of continuity of that literature. “
There is a real power of words, as shown in the intensely erotic scene in which the hero reads a book aloud. What does the film say about this power, through literature but also through the words of the university professor, always very impactful?
Leyla Bouzid : “Words and poetry can have a very powerful erotic charge, a double meaning. The teacher puts double meanings, allusions, suggestions and as she says in her sentences. “literature is desire, desire, more desire”. I had a teacher like that, always in the suggestion and who was fascinating. I wanted to represent this eroticism, this power of words, which is difficult to film. I wanted an organic relationship to words, to literature.
There is a richness in our sensual, erotic literary works …
Sami Outalbali : The film is about the organic given in the writing of a word, the handwriting. You can make sublime declarations of love by text. But there in the poem that she writes to him in Arabic, each erotic word is multiplied tenfold because she wrote it with her own hand. She’s in this paper. She gives a part of herself. It is the power of the written word.
Zbeida Belhajamor : We give meaning to words, to handwritten letters, to the beauty of ink on paper. He cannot read Arabic, so he has to rack his brains to understand, to reach it. I also liked the link between the two heroes and literature, and the fact that we bring Arab culture back to the fore, something we don’t see enough in the cinema. Even people of Arab descent do not know that there is a richness in our sensual, erotic literary works. Farah is the bold voice of a generation that stands up against conservatism, obscurantism and all that archaic stuff.
Our entire interview will be transcribed on AlloCiné when the film is released on September 1st.
Discover the film in pictures: