Céline Sciamma’s award-winning Cannes film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” has no doubt brought her to ranks of world class directors. And yet, Sciamma has decided to defend “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo,” and “Blue is the Warmest Color” director Abdellatif Kechiche.
If you remember, Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winning “Blue is the Warmest Color” was met with controversy back in 2013 when its stars, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, accused the director of taking advantage of them on-set, both describing the experience as "horrible," and vowing to never work with him again. The whole controversy stems from the actresses admitting that they felt “forced” to perform the, now infamous, 13 minute graphic sex-scene. Similar accusations would happen again with “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo” actress Ophélie Bau claiming that the director had purposely inebriated his actress in order for her to perform a non-simulated sex scene.
According to Sciamma, whose “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was the female gaze to Kechiche’s male gazing, well, she’s a fan of Kechiche and his works:
“It was extremely interesting to have both our films in competition,” Sciamma said to So Film magazine (via IndieWire). “Thanks to Kechiche’s film, and to ‘Portrait,’ the French critics were faced with questions of the male and female gaze, and the issues that stem from the act of looking. Kechiche and I make films that act as manifestos about such questions. It is completely stupid to think you can only love one at the expense of the other. To the contrary!”
“Here’s where certain French critics and viewers are not doing enough deconstructive work,” she added. “We can absolutely love both films. We do not live up to the exciting nature of this moment if we start reducing everything to questions of ‘good or not good; moral or immoral; voyeur or not voyeur,’ that’s not the point. The key is to understand what animates such images, and what they seek to impart.”
She further noted, “I like ‘Blue is the Warmest Color,’ for example, and I thought the sex scenes fit perfectly with Kechiche’s larger project: to depict his relationship with his actresses, and their relationship with one another. That’s fascinating, so long as you remain active, which is essential when watching Kechiche’s films. [We should] avoid base judgments and have the courage to question the gaze — our own, and that of the director. But that requires some effort from the spectator.”