How did you come up with the idea for your film?
A long time ago, when I was having a drink with my friend Morgan Simon (director of several shorts that have been screened at Clermont, including Essaie de mourir jeune [Try to Die Young] and Réveiller les morts [Waking the Dead], in the National Competitions for 2015 and 2016 respectively), he told me that he’d just overheard some girls on the bus talking very seriously about bacon flavor. They were wondering whether it was forbidden or not. The conversation was very funny and we both thought it would be a great opening for a film. But it was mostly our conversations with young people and the idea of the Cinétalents initiative of 1000 Visages that made our film possible. We made it while in residency at Cinétalents. We had to make a film with twenty or so young people in a very short time. We had three days for shooting and an improv workshop to help us out.
What interested you in the young teenagers’ relationship to love?
I wanted to talk about two boys who were in love in their own way, where one had an idea of love and the other was in heartache, because I was fed up with the caricature of young boys from the projects who are just plain horrible to their sisters and misogynistic with their girlfriends. I wanted to get beyond that cliché and show the fragility of the boys and the strength of the girls I was dealing with.
There’s plenty of me in the Bilel /Adil duo. When each one winds up on the other side, they experience girls and what they both define as “love” through laughter.
And what interested you in looking at the social pressures they’re faced with, especially among their peers, as these are exacerbated by the power of social media?
A girlfriend talked to me about Snapchat when we were shooting with the teenagers. I was immediately struck by this object that stands on opposites sides of the contradiction of modernity: there’s the ephemeral (when you receive a snap, you can only see it once and then it’s immediately deleted) and the eternal: information that lasts and takes root in the court of social opinion. Snaps are a powerful tool for rumors and fantasies because they’re merely instantaneous memories that can give rise to all manner of suppositions. Fuelled by the non-stop stream of videos posted on the internet, which they can now watch on their phones, teenagers are including this new form of social contact into their daily lives.
When I talk about these new technologies and read stories about numerous teenagers committing suicide after violent, humiliating videos surface, I immediately want to confront the issue, the tragedy of these uncontrollable images that are a genuine weapon and enemy of the Self against others. I wanted to take the opposite approach and make a comedy out of the whole issue. Here, snaps are an excuse for a romantic quest. And even if this quest comes across as a lie to both of them, it allows each one to become aware of something. Bilal gets stripped by Bahia and finds out that girls are not as easy as he thought, and Adil shares Jennifer’s pain and consequently has to get over his homophobia. Just like these two guys and their adolescence, caught between tradition and modernity, coming to terms with certain facts of life: chatting a girl up, kissing her in front of everyone and against taboos. Arbitrary taboos that can be either frivolous or terrifying. She tasted like bacon.
Why did you choose to go further and examine the community boundaries of the group that the young protagonists must limit themselves to in order to be accepted by their peers, and the contrast between each one’s inner position and his apparent attitude?
The question of community boundaries is the same as the question of the court that is inherent in any microcosm of society. What am I meant to feel or think within this group, what values am I meant to uphold? But those same values are overturned when the girls talk about the bacon flavor, or when Adil has to pass as a homosexual in order to be able to touch Jennyfer. Because in that moment, through his exclusion, Adil also understand its.
I’m a great admirer of Rohmer’s films, and the question of seeming and being is at the heart of romantic banter. What do I choose to say, to show, and what do I feel differently? That was a process that very quickly allowed me to get into comedy and to work on the sub-text with young actors embarking upon their first professional experience.
Do you think that some taboos can make young people suffer by cutting them off from others?
There are taboos at every stage of life. I just think that exclusion can be very strong, and today, through social media, it can have very cruel effects. Snaps are a powerful tool for rumors and fantasies because they’re merely instantaneous memories that can give rise to all manner of suppositions. Fuelled by the non-stop stream of videos posted on the internet, which they can now watch on their phones, teenagers are including this new form of social contact into their daily lives. At the same time, the film tends not to judge anyone, but rather to observe, and especially to make them be able to laugh at hypocrisy and talk just a little about the “taboo” of homosexuality. At any rate, during the filming, we discussed pressures and homosexuality with the kids, and I think those discussions were necessary.
And how did you envision the characters of the young neighbors who put pressure on the protagonists?
I wanted to get right into the countdown for the start of Bilel’s quest for girls, so those characters had to turn up pretty quickly and violently. That’s also probably the “serious” scene in the film, the most “dramatic”. Especially since we shot it in Grigny, right in the projects where many of the young people who worked on the film come from.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
The first time I came to Clermont-Ferrand I was seventeen, I was taking a film elective in high school, it was snowing, it was really cold. I remember going to post a letter in the letterbox which was one floor up. And then I met a director whose film I really loved. And that was really great. There’s a genuine occasion for the audience and the filmmakers to meet. That’s pretty magical.