Can I Get a Witness?

Wild Reeds director André Téchiné's new film, The Witnesses, is a reminder of an epidemic that cinema sometimes forgets.

BY David Ehrenstein

February 01 2008 1:00 AM ET

There have been several French films I can think of
that deal with AIDS: the musical Jeanne and
The Perfect Guy, the very sensational
Savage Nights, and another very interesting
film that deals in part with the dying, Les
Passagers.
And then there are films like Those
Who Love Me Can Take the Train
and coming up the
new film Before I Forget by Jacques Nolot
-- who appears as an actor in The
Witnesses
and has been a script collaborator
with you in the past. How is your film different?

Many of the films you've mentioned are great films that I
like a lot. But the collective reaction that I'm
talking about isn't present in those films. I'm
looking to present a new form of solidarity in cinema. In
the conclusion of my film the epidemic results in a
new form of collectivity and solidarity. I like
Angels in America very much because it
shows this too. At the end the characters are not
destroyed by AIDS. That's what interests me about this
illness. My film isn't strictly melancholy or
negative. There's horror, but in the end, I hope, a
sense of humanity remains through dealing with this war.

At the end of the film there's this sense of "life
goes on" too.

Not just that. What's been created is a new collection of
people. For example, Steve (Lorenzo Balducci), the
young American who has come to Paris to meet his
lover's family and meets Adrien by chance. The reality
created by the illness brings them together.

Sarah is also a shocking character in many ways.
She's a mother who rejects the child she's just given
birth to -- rejects motherhood. Many people will
find that hard to take.

She rejects the child because of her career as a writer and
because she doesn't like being a mother. That happens.
It's true.

Sami Bouajila, who plays her husband, was in TheAdventures of Felix -- another film that
dealt with AIDS.

He's very complex and has a lot of strength as an actor. He
was just what I needed for that character.

Tags: Film

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