Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme d’Or in 2013 with Blue Is the Warmest Color, and while he has been widely anticipated to be making a return to the Cannes Film Festival with his latest work, Mektoub Is Mektoub, he says it will not hit the Croisette next month. The filmmaker told Nice Matin this week that he is in a contractual dispute over Mektoub that will prevent it from making Thierry Frémaux’s Official Selection when it is unveiled next Thursday. However, the other party Kechiche cited in the dispute, public broadcaster France Télévisions, has denied it is keeping the filmmaker from bringing the movie to Cannes.
Mektoub is adapted from the book by François Bégaudeau, La Blessure, La Vraie, a coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old boy in the 1980s. It was slated as one picture, but Kechiche ended up making two films — Les Dés Sont Jetés and Pray for Jack — and that caused an issue with co-financier France Télévisions, he told his hometown newspaper.
“I committed to one film. But in the end, there are two,” Kechiche said. “This falls outside the normal realm, which has posed a problem with the contracts. Particularly for France Télévisions. The movie has turned into a “family saga … a philosophical tale” that’s taken on much bigger proportions.
The film now is blocked at the editing stage, Kechiche contends, while a Paris court weighs a decision about how to move forward. But the basis of the case remains unclear. A spokesperson for France Télévisions tells Deadline that the company “is in no way preventing Abdellatif Kechiche from going to and/or presenting his film in Cannes.”
Details about the film are scarce, but financiers alongside France Télévisions are Canal Plus and Pathé. The latter is handling international sales and has French distribution.
Kechiche has won numerous awards for such film as L’Esquive and The Secret of the Grain along with Blue Is the Warmest Color. But that film saw all matter of controversy when, after it picked up the Palme, the director was accused of poor on-set working conditions and had a very public disagreement with stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, who alleged exploitative shooting practices.
Bégaudeau, the author of the source material for Mektoub, told Le Monde this week that he met with Kechiche in the early days of the adaptation. “We had a couple of drinks, but it was at the very start. Since then, his project has taken on many different shapes, and I don’t know where he is with it — probably very far from my book in any case.”
Kechiche said this week that one half of the story is “a quest for light” and the other is “its loss,” adding that a third chapter is not ruled out. In the meantime, he told Nice Matin that he’s working on two new projects: L’Agneau De Dieu (Lamb Of God) and Soeur Marguerite (Sister Marguerite).