Five years ago, young Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont made a sensational debut in the world of cinema when his debut feature film won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Girl. One would have thought that this instant success would give him the impetus to make a new film quickly. But in the end the opposite happened.
“I’ve lived the cliché of the director for whom writing a second film comes with a lot of fears and questions,” the 31-year-old filmmaker confided in an interview granted to the Journal via videoconference last December. .
“So I looked for YouTube clips to see if other directors had already spoken out about this fear of a second film. I came across a video of Julia Ducournau talking about mourning her first feature film (Grave) before writing Titane. That seemed logical to me because writing and directing a film is usually a project that accompanies us for several years of our lives. It’s normal to have to mourn before embarking on another project.
Lukas Dhont therefore decided to take his time before searching for the subject of his next film. However, the theme of male friendship quickly caught on. His drama Close, which opens in Quebec this weekend after being nominated for an Oscar for best international film last week, tells the story of a close friendship between two 13-year-old boys that breaks as they hit puberty.
“One of the first words I put down on paper when I started thinking about my second film was ‘friendship,'” he recalls. However, it is an issue that has been quite complex in my life. Because when I was young, I often rejected friends because I was afraid to experience an intimacy and a sensuality with them that was immediately perceived as something sexual. I always thought that this alienation had to do with growing up as a queer boy in the Flemish countryside. But it ended up being more complex than that.
loss of tenderness
The filmmaker obtained many of the answers he had long sought by reading a sociological study that followed 150 boys aged 13 to 18 over a five-year period.
“We could read there that the boys at 13 talked about their male friendships as if they were love stories,” explains Lukas Dhont. They spoke about it with tenderness and intimacy, openly using the word “love”. But by the time they’re 16 or 17, those same boys don’t talk about their friends in the same way. They no longer dare to express their feelings, their tenderness and their vulnerability.
“Reading that was an eye opener and a big emotion for me because I understood that what I went through at that age had nothing to do with my experience as a queer boy. It was more related to the loss of tenderness that comes with puberty. I wanted to try and find a way to translate that into a film.”
Closein cinemas since Friday.