Berlinale opening film explores #Metoo issues of power and control

BERLIN, Feb 10 (Reuters) – French director François Ozon’s ‘Peter von Kant’ – a film about a director’s possessive relationship with a young actor – explores the power directors have over actors: a question that resonates strongly in the #MeToo era, Ozon said.

In the film, which premiered Thursday at the opening of this year’s Berlin film festival, Ozon said he aimed to pose these questions to directors and audiences, four years after the #MeToo movement shook the film industry around the world.

“There’s something universal…with all these questions about control, manipulation and dominance relationships,” Ozon told a news conference.

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“As a director, we are forced to ask ourselves these questions because we are in a position of power,” Ozon said.

The #MeToo movement, sparked in 2017 by accusations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, has prompted hundreds of actors to speak out about harassment and assault by powerful filmmakers.

“Peter von Kant”, a remake of the 1972 German film “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant”, shows a top director falling in love with “Amir”, a much younger man from a poor family. It stars Denis Menochet and Isabelle Adjani.

Von Kant seduces Amir with champagne and the promise of fame, until the sudden success of the young man’s career turns the tables on his possessive boss.

Ozon said he wanted to show how love changes power relations.

“It makes things a lot more ambiguous because things aren’t binary, I think, in his work and his romantic relationships,” Ozon said.

Ozon said it was the pandemic that brought to mind the 50-year-old original: Since this film was set almost exclusively within the claustrophobic confines of an apartment, it would be easy to comply with current coronavirus regulations when he made his movie.

The film is among those competing for the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear, which will be awarded next Wednesday.

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Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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