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Christophe Honoré on ‘Sorry Angel’: ‘In France We’re Blessed as Filmmakers’

One of French novelist-turned-director Christophe Honoré’s most personal films, “Sorry Angel” world premiered on Thursday in competition at Cannes. Sold by MK2, “Sorry Angel” stars French actors Pierre Deladonchamps as a 30-something jaded, HIV-positive novelist who comes across an enthusiastic aspiring writer, Arthur (Vincent Lacoste) in his early 20s. “Sorry Angel” marks the director’s comeback to Cannes’s competition 11 years after “Love Songs.” He’s working on “Les Idoles,” a new play paying tribute to several artists who died of AIDS. It will kick off in January at Paris’ Odéon theater.

“Sorry Angel” follows a romance between two men, one of which has AIDS, in the ’90s. Yet, your film is not a full-on AIDS drama like Robin Campillo’s “BPM.” How would you describe it?

I wanted to explore my memories of being in my 20s in the ’90s. AIDS was part of our lives, so many people around me died, and at the time, AIDS and the fear of death was looming over love and sex relationships.

Do you think it’s the role of a filmmaker to address social or political issues?

I think it’s pretentious to proclaim oneself a militant director. Our craft is about working with the imaginary and steering away from stereotypes. It’s important to be socially aware, but not sociological in our approach to making films.

Do you think the number of gay-themed films is continuing to increase, especially at festivals?

I think programmers are becoming way less self-conscious because they’ve understood that the gender of characters has little to do with the emotions one can feel watching them. “Happy Together” and “Blue Is the Warmest Color” are good examples.

There are several sex scenes in the film. How did you tackle them?

I tried to not show too much, but it was unavoidable because sensuality plays a big part in these characters’ lives. But I didn’t show them having orgasm, and didn’t ask them to simulate it.

Was it difficult to finance this film because of its subject?

I can’t complain because in France we’re blessed as filmmakers. If I lived in Germany or Italy I would have directed two or three films in 15 years, and not the 10 movies I made in France.

Yet, you made it with a budget of under €3 million. How did that work out?

It was a labor of love, we worked with back-ends. And here we are premiering the film in competition at Cannes! This film is like a pumpkin that turned into a carriage.

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