Wild Bunch boss and co-founder Vincent Maraval has sparked a backlash after firing off tweets perceived as homophobic upon learning that Robin Campillo’s AIDS drama “BPM ( Beats per Minute)” was chosen to represent France in the foreign-language Oscar category. Maraval had backed Michel Hazanavicius’s “Redoutable,” which had been shortlisted by France’s Oscar committee and is being sold by Wild Bunch.
A prominent but divisive figure in the French industry, Maraval has cultivated a reputation for brashness for more than a decade through splashy declarations in the press and personal clashes with French officials and institutions such as UniFrance. Reacting to an article published in “So Film” – a magazine co-owned by Wild Bunch – on the selection of “BPM” on Tuesday, Maraval tweeted (with several spelling mistakes) that he had “the uncomfortable sensation of being f—–.”
He followed that up with another tweet saying that Campillo’s gay-themed film “turned me over,” an allusion to sex between two men.
Les Inrocks, a hipster magazine, blasted Maraval’s “blatant homophobia on Twitter” in an article published Wednesday. The article said Maraval was “no longer a raunchy, irresponsible kid who tweets from the playground… He is one of the most powerful, influential figures of the French film industry, which gives a certain resonance to his comments, even his impulsive tweets, and this should make him take the full measure of what he expresses in the public arena.”
The article added that “French cinema via Twitter should not become a place where the most vulgar and blatant homophobia proliferates.”
Maraval fired back, accusing Les Inrocks of being biased against him and declaring: “I adore jokes that are homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist and anti-Christian.”
Some industry players also reacted strongly to Maraval’s tweets. Alexandre Mallet-Guy, the president of Memento Films Distribution who co-produced “BPM” and is distributing the film in France, wrote on his Facebook account: “We too have our Trump. Sad…”
Cédric Succivalli, the president of the International Cinephile Society, tweeted: “Vincent Maraval blows ANOTHER fuse with homophobic joke [because] the French Oscar committee chose BPM over his film.”
Maraval has fired shots at “BPM” before. When the film won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes, he lashed out at Les Inrocks for writing that the film should have won the Palme d’Or. Maraval said Screen’s jury grid had showed that international critics found that it was “a good film but one that’s been made many times.”