Lukas Dhont speaks in the Cannes competition about the youth drama “Close”.

Belgian director Luke Dhont is in Rarely Company. His 2018 Un Certain Regard debut Girl won the camera d’Or and three other Cannes awards, It surpasses the number of first-time feature wins by the likes of Steven Soderbergh and Steve McQueen. And while his rise to fame has been met with some controversy, he earned a place in the competition with the Lumière Gala premiere of his second work, Close, on May 26th.

The story of two 13-year-old boys whose strong friendship ends when their relationship comes under scrutiny.started from a very personal point of view,” says the out director, who co-wrote the screenplay with “Girl” co-writer Angelo Tijssens. “Growing up, I had a lot of male friends [ages] 13 and 18 that I lost because of who I am. Because I was so afraid of intimacy with another boy that I was and the label of sexuality [I had], I began to fear some friendships and let go of some . . . In a way I think I made this film for friends I lost. I got a message from someone saying they heard this movie existed and wanted to get in touch. That can be a beautiful thing to happen through release.”

Dhont cites research in psychologist Niobe Way’s book Deep Secrets as an influence on the film. “It seems that emotions . . . often seen as feminine or undesirable,” he says. “Many men or women, including girls, know this fear of intimacy. I wanted to show the vulnerable friendship between boys and what it does to them when they distance themselves from each other.”

It goes without saying that “Close” has very personal themes to convey dhonts Experiences. In 2018, as more online critics began to question which actors and filmmakers had the right to portray LGBT characters, “Girl” came under fire from some for having a non-trans lead role (Cannes Prize winner Victor Polster) and had a director. soon after, dhonts Friend and inspiration for the character, trans ballet dancer Nora Monsécourrevealed that she spent years taking notes on the scripts, casting and filming of the film.

“What I learned from ‘Close’ is that I wanted to make a film that just came out of me, because I can’t do anything else,” he says, “it’s incredible that so many people are so passionate about it good or bad way, about something you did.”

How does he feel about the controversy today? “WWhen you make a film, you put it out there for people to react to,” he says. “It has been an incredible process of understanding that there are many trans stories in this world, much more to be told, and as with many LGBT issues, always will be [few] at this moment. It is important to listen and [have a] Dialog. With ‘Close’ I will continue to do that.” And, most likely, there will be less firestorm. “It’s about friendship, and for me it’s a whole different film.”

Scenes from the film seem to capture that again blissful landscape his youth. “When I faced my blank sheet, my first impulse was to return to my hometown, to the village in the Belgian countryside,” he says. When he wrote some of the first scenes, Dhont spotted one of the leads on a train ride to his current home in Ghent and asked him to take part in a big casting. He discovered another in an acting workshop in Brussels.

dhonts The next trip could take him to the USA, where he is represented by CAA and Management 360. “There’s this strong connection I feel with American cinema,” he says. “I really want to make films or shows that I feel are a continuation of the themes I want to express, whether it’s in France, America, Europe or my home country of Belgium. I love the idea of ​​having that very openly.” Lukas Dhont speaks in the Cannes competition about the youth drama “Close”.

Charles Jones

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