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David Lambert • Director

“Above all, a film about love”


- Cineuropa met the Belgian filmmaker selected for the competition at the Critics' Week in Cannes with his first feature Beyond the Walls.

David Lambert • Director

Born in the Belgian Ardennes, David Lambert graduated with a degree in Romance languages and literature. He moved on to theatre, as a playwright, and then slowly made his way into directing. Just before his thirtieth birthday, he became a scriptwriter and worked for two years on a children's programme, then co-wrote screenplays for feature films including The Boat Race by Bernard Bellefroid (2009). Beyond the Walls [+see also:
film review
making of
interview: David Lambert
film profile
is his first feature film, and has earned him a place at the Critics' Week at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: What filmmakers inspired you to make films?
David Lambert: What fundamentally made me want to make films - and I know this may seem a little strange to you - were the horror films of the 1970s: Halloween, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cronenberg's first films, and also Wes Craven... I also really like Fassbinder, all his work, including what he did in theatre. Finally, I'm an unconditional fan of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. You can see its influence in my film.

How did you choose your two lead actors?
My great preoccupation, during casting, was to make the couple work. I couldn't cast Paulo without Ilir, or Ilir without Paulo. In the actors, I looked for an emotional core that would shine through in a fictional character. I worked on very opposite dispositions, which allowed me to find complementarities and to understand how one would be indispensable to the other.

Did you leave a lot of footage behind in the editing room?
During shooting, I enjoyed great freedom with the actors and my team. Once we had shot the scene planned in screenplay, we allowed ourselves to wander away from it, to try new things. This is where real creation happens, in these freer moments... Editing, with my accomplice Hélène Girard, was really re-writing and when we had to make real choices.

What did you learn on the set of Beyond the Walls that will be useful for the rest of your career?
I don't feel like I have a career... I just feel the need to say something particular here and now. I am lucky to be surrounded by producers, actors, and technicians who can make this kind of desire, a film, possible. What I learnt? So many things that it's difficult to choose... Perhaps, I learnt to trust my intuition even more, and to depend less on the rational part of my brain.

Paulo and Ilir do not convey a hedonistic or smooth image of homosexuality. Do you consider the film to be more realist that what is usually portrayed in gay cinema?
I don't know what gay cinema is. From my point of view, it doesn't exist. When "homosexuality" is in a film, it is what it is. It's not my vocation to give a certain image to one sexuality or another. Beyond the Walls is, above all, a film about love. It just so happens that this love is between two men, just as Romeo et Juliet is a work about love, and this love just so happens to be between a man and a woman.

Despite its selection at the Critics' Week, do you think that distributors will have cold feet at the idea of a film about two gay characters?
It's up to the distributors to answer this question, not me. I think there are general cold feet as soon as you step away, even a tiny bit, from a common discourse. But I think that certain distributors make real film choices. Beside, my characters are not especially gay. They love each other at one point in their lives. Who says that, one day, they won't love a woman?

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