Delphine Lehericey • Director of Beyond the Horizon
“The questions the film poses in 1976 are reminiscent of those still asked by women today”
- We met with Delphine Lehericey as she presented her new film, Beyond the Horizon , in a world premiere within the New Directors line-up of the San Sebastián Film Festival
Following Puppy Love [+see also:
film profile] and the documentary Une Cheffe et son étoile, the Swiss filmmaker now living in Belgium Delphine Lehericey is making her return with Beyond the Horizon [+see also:
interview: Delphine Lehericey
film profile], the timeless story of a heat-struck summer where bodies and minds find freedom. We sat down with her on the occasion of the presentation and world premiere of her film, screened within the New Directors section of the 67th San Sebastián Film Festival.
Cineuropa: The film is surprising for the almost carnal approach it takes towards rural and agricultural life, at a crucial time when the latter were losing their humanity in the race for profit.
Delphine Lehericey: That’s also what drew me to this film: the idea of getting back to basics. The Earth. To be face to face with life and death. Not making yet another film based around conversations in lounges or cafés. To be face to face with people who are losing everything, people who cook, who farm the land. I don’t come from that kind of background and I didn’t want to betray that particular form of beauty. It was brilliant to finding myself with a screenplay which explored that moment in time, where people wanted to make it a less humane and less noble way of life back in the 1970s: we make money and we buy thousands of chickens, who cares how we treat them? That’s also why the film has a classic feel to it. Filming nature puts things back into perspective.
Who is Gus, the hero of the film?
He’s a young man who’s at a fascinating age; he’s still a child, but with a foot in the door of adolescence. In the one and a half months of summer, he grows up very quickly. He’s more of a dreamer than a farmer. He’s not satisfied with the conditions he’s living in, but fate is forcing him to comply and the resulting anger gradually builds up within him.
It’s not helped by the fact that Gus is surrounded by strong women who are either rebelling against their lot or emancipating themselves. Was it important for you to give a woman’s viewpoint, to offer a female gaze on this burgeoning love and these female revolutions?
These are the type of questions that I ask myself regularly. We’re at a crucial moment in the history of men and women. It’s a shame that we’re always pitted against one another; we should come together in order to re-examine the #metoo movement from a more united viewpoint. The male gaze and the female gaze – these are things that I’ve always been aware of, ever since I first started watching films or reading books. We women all discovered art, cinema, literature through works essentially produced by men. To suddenly realise that there are also works by women and that they’re different comes as a shock, both politically and aesthetically. The work we now need to do is to deconstruct all that and theorise it.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to film Laetitia Casta in that respect. She’s an icon of femininity and sensuality. I wanted a popular actress who could take the viewer on a journey with her at a time when she’s leaving her family. This already offers a different way of looking at her. Men and women don’t see a woman who falls in love with another woman in the same way. We don’t look in the same places. There’s one scene where things change, whether the child watches his mother kissing Cécile. The idea wasn’t to find it beautiful or erotic, but subversive.
Of course, there are men who take a caring, gracious approach, who film women with respect and integrity. I think the female gaze is also the place where we ourselves are; it’s about taking our thoughts on how women are viewed, and turning it into a story, so that it’s a bit more complicated than it seems. With this film, we also explore a little bit about that time in history. It takes place in the 1970s, but the questions it raises are reminiscent of those which we women could ask ourselves today. The men also ask themselves questions: am I also a victim of this patriarchy? In 2016, I myself had a very rough time with the choices I made… But to make those choices in 1976? What bravery!
(Translated from French)
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