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CANNES 2002 Competition

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The Dardennes want a repeat


- Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne´s Le fils -The Son, winners of the 1999 Palme d´Or, are the new favourites

The Dardennes want a repeat

With Le Fils - The Son, Belgian´s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne lay claim to a second Palme d´Or, an achievement that would make them fully paid-up members of an exclusive club that includes Francis Ford Coppola, Shoei Imamura, Emir Kusturica and Bille August. They won their first Palme d´Or in 1999 with Rosetta.
Made with the professional style and a new technical expertise that we have come to expect from this duo, Le fils is the story of a carpenter who runs a daycare center and halfway house for former juvenile detainees. He accepts Francis, a young boy, after first having refused him entry and we are not told the reason for this. The boy committed a murder at 11 and was imprisoned for a number of years and is now an adolescent. The carpenter, Olivier, begins showing the boy the secrets of his profession and everything points to his wanting to adopt the youngster. The awful secret is finally revealed (and we have been asked by the directors not to reveal it) and the destiny of one man changes this relationship for ever.
Le fils is a film about forgiveness, reconciliation and the revelation of fatherhood but the directors refuse to label it. «Everyone is free to interpret the film in their own way. We think of Le Fils as the story of two individuals who meet; two solitudes that cross over and come together for a while» The two directors kept the film camera a few inches from back of the protagonist, Olivier´s neck (Olivier Gourmet featured in the Dardenne´s earlier films). «The back and neck are the most vulnerable parts of our body and Olivier is a wounded man. Filming him face on would be akin to voyeurism. Le Fils is the story of a father. "Our insistence on the details of his work and Olivier´s gestures as he teaches Francis represent the gradual development of a father-and-son relationship."
The film has no false morals and the ending is unresolved because Le fils is also a careful analysis of the reality of Belgian´s re-education centers. «Unfortunately the new Belgian legislation is more repressive because there have been a few serious incidents and the media have blown up the security issue to make it into one of the most important issues on the right- wing agenda.»

(Translated from Italian)

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