It was so unexpected that even the producer of the film, Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, considers this choice “incredible”.
This Thursday, the committee of the National Cinema Center (CNC), responsible for designating the film that will represent France at the Oscars next spring, chose “Deux”, Filippo Meneghetti's first film.
He was in competition with heavyweights like “ADN”, by Maïwenn, or “Eté 85”, by François Ozon.
Coming out on February 12, “Deux” had aroused a great critical enthusiasm.
We judged in these columns that this film, which tells the story of two elderly women residing on the same landing and living a hidden and thwarted love story, “is astonished by the force and the emotion that emanates from its story.
The taboo question of homosexuality between two 70-year-old women, never mentioned head-on, yet disrupts everything that is tied up in the background ”.
We were also seduced by the three wonderful main actresses of the film, the German Barbara Sukowa and the French Martine Chevallier and Léa Drucker.
VIDEO. The trailer for "Two"
The trailer for "Two"
But the career of the feature film, released three weeks before the first confinement, had come to an abrupt end when it had only been seen by 49,000 spectators - "it was still showing in 117 theaters", regrets Filippo Meneghetti, reached by phone.
If he still has to face the dams of two American selections to come, the fact that he was chosen to represent France in the race for the Oscar for best film in a foreign language is therefore a nice surprise for this work which has had a great story.
The director joined Paris "for love"
Born 39 years ago, Filippo Meneghetti spent his childhood in a small town in Veneto and studied cinema and anthropology between Italy and New York, before working for a long time as assistant director in Rome, then directing his first short film.
Why did he settle in France?
"For love", smiles the filmmaker: he followed his Parisian companion.
And that's how he showed his first achievement to Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, who trusted him to embark on the “Deux” project, which took six years to see the light of day.
He does not know if he could have made his feature film under the same conditions in Italy, and is full of praise for the cultural regime of our country: “I have met collaborators in France and people who have believed in me, and who showed tenacity.
And it is the French system which favored the production of my film.
Today, the young director, who is preparing his next project, says he is "very touched and grateful" to our country.
“It will be an honor to represent France while I am Italian”.
Created in 2011 by Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, who is also the co-founder and director of the Arcs Film Festival (which will take place “Off Piste” - partly online - in December), Paprika Films has made eclectic and ambitious choices until now.
The company notably produced “The Emperor”, by Luc Jacquet, and will produce his next film, as will the upcoming adaptation of “La Panthère des neiges”, Sylvain Tesson's bestseller.
A "reward" for a "real choice of cinema"
But financing "Deux" was not an easy task: "For a first film on such a subject, it was very difficult to get TV channels on board", summarizes the producer.
After two unsuccessful attempts, it was the advance on receipts from the CNC that paved the way for production, with the collaboration of the Occitanie region and the film's distributor, Sophie Dulac.
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The choice to offer “Two” to the Oscars therefore has for him a “reward” value: “It's a real choice of cinema, because Filippo had a proposal for cinema.
"While being aware that the CNC commission also took into account the fact that the American distributor of the film, Magnolia Pictures, is used to being in the last four in the Oscar race for best foreign film:" They have a very strong plan to campaign for the film among Oscar Academy voters, that must have counted in their decision.
"And he is delighted, so much he liked to produce" this story of crazy love which received twenty public awards at festivals. "
It is also a great reward for Sophie Dulac, operator of five arthouse theaters in Paris, producer and distributor, tireless defender of auteur cinema through her company Dulac Distribution.
A company which recently released nuggets like the animated film for adults "Josep", or the feature films "Canción sin Nombre", "Cunningham" or "3 Days in Quiberon" (on the last months of Romy Schneider) .
She believed very strongly in "Two".
Strongly impacted by the confinement in its activity of theater operator and that of distributor, it notes that the choice to send the film to the Oscars constitutes “good news” in this atmosphere made of “gloom”.