Lukas Dhont’s Cannes debut was also his debut feature, Girl, which ran in Un Certain Regard in 2018. A stunning start for the young Belgian, the movie brought him the Caméra d’Or and myriad other prizes down the line. Now, four years later, Dhont is returning to Cannes with his follow-up, Close, which has landed him in the main competition.
“It feels unbelievable,” Dhont says of graduating to the Lumière theater. “Of course, we had an amazing journey with Girl, but we feel Close is more personal and universal.” It’s also a little nerve-rattling. “It’s such a personal film to me that sharing it at that scale is something.”
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Close is centered on two 13-year-old boys who have been friends forever. That close friendship is disrupted when something happens in their lives that changes the course of it. Dhont describes the movie as being about “the deep connection and the vulnerability of friendship, and masculinity.”
He was inspired after returning home to Belgium post-Girl and recalling his first friendships and love stories. “I felt the urge to discover and explore male friendship. The intimacy of male friendship I haven’t seen as much on screen as I wanted to. It feels like friendships define who we are, maybe more than our other relationships.”
Looking back at Girl, the story of a 15-year-old girl born in the body of a boy, who dreams of becoming a ballerina, and the controversy it sparked—some trans critics called it irresponsible—Dhont calls it a learning experience. “I try to do everything in my life with authenticity, and love and respect for who I am and who others are, and I also have the same respect for people’s opinions. I think dialogue is something very important to me. At the end, it was an experience in which I gained a lot of maturity.”
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