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David Lambert • Director

"It's my least autobiographical film, and yet my most personal"

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- We met up with Belgian director and screenwriter David Lambert, whose third feature film, Troisièmes noces, is released this Wednesday in Belgian cinemas

David Lambert • Director
(© Cinevox)

David Lambert is certainly well-respected on the international scene following the release of his first two feature films, Beyond the Walls [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
and All Yours [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
, both of which were selected at major international festivals (Critics' Week and Karlovy Vary respectively) and focus on homosexuality and relationships. With Troisièmes noces [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: David Lambert
film profile
]
, which O'Brother is releasing this Wednesday in Belgian cinemas, he once again delves into world of relationships thanks to a story about a sham marriage between a recently-widowed homosexual and a young Congolese illegal immigrant, with performances by Bouli Lanners and Rachel Mwanza.

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Cineuropa: How did the project come about?
David Lambert:
The film is an adaptation of a book by the Flemish author Tom LanoyeI, which I devoured over the course of a weekend. The book describes a whole series of situations that I was familiar with. Two months later I met with Tom Lanoye at Ghent Festival on the occasion of the premiere of All Yours. I asked him to trust me, and he did. Strangely, it's my least autobiographical film to date, my other two films drew more inspiration from my own life, and yet this film is the most personal, which is a funny feeling.

What lies at the heart of this film?
It’s the story of a character in mourning who gives himself a second chance, a burst of life. Can we survive the loss of the love of our life, and if we survive, what do we do with the life we ​​have left to live?

Is the film a comedy?
It's a comedy of sorts, but a dramatic comedy. Tender and dramatic. Creating a comedy was a long journey for me. It was quite difficult. It's harder to do, but it's good for people. Trying to maintain the complexity of the subject matter and build real characters while making people laugh was a real challenge.

We had some slightly unusual feedback: it's not serious enough, or it’s not "festival" enough. There is a kind of conventionalism to festival films, as there is to somewhat vulgar French comedies, and I sincerely hope that there is a way to create something that sits somewhere in the middle, which can find its own audience. An open film, that makes you laugh, moves you, tells you interesting things in an interesting way. But perhaps I’m trying to create some slightly too complex combinations, trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, like my characters – it’s my utopian dream!

Is making a film about a fake couple also a good way to talk about real couples?
Absolutely, the falseness allows reality to shine through. It’s filmed in a very dream-like way, in which people talk about what they really want, their frustrations and hopes. Troisièmes noces is about a couple, as were my first two films. There is some thematic continuity. I feel like I have completed a cycle with these three films. I feel like I’m completing a trilogy about couples and coexistence that I never started. How to exist and be yourself with someone else.

The film also includes an implicit message about immigration...
I wanted to create real characters and not caricatures of immigrants suffering because they have no right to remain. I wanted to go beyond statistics and create immigrant characters who are not necessarily treated as immigrants. Who have every right to feature in a light-hearted comedy, to be humorous, cunning, with moments of desperation that are not always related to their immigration status. In films, as soon as there is an immigrant, even with the best intentions in the world, he or she takes on the figure of THE immigrant. But all of these immigrants have first names, dates of birth, personal details that should lift them out of their caricatured roles. They are above all human beings, who have the right to real stories that go beyond the stigma surrounding their immigration status.

(Translated from French)

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