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 12:00 AM ET

The other thing the film deals with about
relationships is that sometimes there's love and no
sexuality and sometimes there's sexuality and no love.

Often the most chaste loves are the strongest. Love and sex
are sometimes together but often distinct. All the
characters in the film are different. Sarah embraces
Manu, who has been her husband's lover because she
never judges anyone. That's why it should be difficult to
judge her.

Where is that hotel in Paris?

Actually, it's not in Paris. It's based on a hotel I know of
in Marseilles. I originally wrote those scenes to be
shot in Marseilles, but it was too expensive. So I put
it in Paris in the 18th arrondissement. It's one of
the true autobiographical elements of the film, that hotel,
because I lived in such a hotel for a time

We see gay men cruising in the park, but there
aren't any scenes in the "gay ghetto" -- Le Marais, for example.

No, this isn't a film about back rooms or nightclubs. I
tried to show other places like the park. They exist.
Or at least they existed at that time. I loved the
parks and gardens as meeting places. At night when the
moon was out they were magical. But now in Paris that
doesn't exist anymore.

Ah, c'est triste.

Oui, c'est triste.

And now your future projects?

There's a film I want to shoot this winter about a young
Arab woman in France encountering racism. It's a story
about truth and lies. In a sense it will be kind of a
documentary. She's kind of an artist. She concocts a
lie, but at the same time it reflects something real in
society.

A bit like your other films with a female
protagonist? Barocco? Hôtel des Amériques?

And Rendez-vous, which is made with a very
young Juliette Binoche. There won't be a male lead in this
one. It'll be about a young woman making her way in
the modern world. And that's all I can say about it
right now because that's the way I work.

Tags: film

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