The cinematic world may slowly shift back to something resembling normal after the onslaught of Cannes, but one film destined for continued debate is Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue is the Warmest Color.” The three-hour romance ended up taking home the Palme d’Or – shared amongst the director and the film’s stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux – but after the source material’s author labeled the adaptation “porn” due to it's graphic sex scenes, another fierce criticism has come from within, this time via the film’s crew.
A statement released to the press by the French film union Spiac-CGT -- fifteen of whom worked on Kechiche’s production -- has brought a number of allegations against the director and his team over five months of filming: complaints of “workdays of 16 hours reported as 8,” and other violations of the Labor Code.
The smudging of work hours is nothing new on independent productions, of course, but with Kechiche garnering a €4 million Euro budget for 'Blue,' there is noticeably less sympathy. Among the crew members that chose to stay anonymous in the union’s statement, the list continues: an “anarchic” schedule that left many “not knowing if they would work or not on Saturday or Sunday,” lost paycheck hours, and a “bullying” atmosphere that led some to abandon the already over-budget project.
The controversy over Kechiche’s film is just the latest point in an already-tense debate over France’s collective labor agreement, which was signed in January 2012 by most trade unions (including Spiac-CGT), but was firmly rejected by independent producers. Detractors say the majority of indie films made in France would be impossible with the new regulations, which favors higher minimum wages and hourly overtime payment.
Because of its recent adulation, 'Blue' stands to be one of the prime examples pointed to by both sides as a work of either justifiable sacrifice or exploitation. But just as our glowing review from Cannes called it “transportative, truthful, and sublime,” this new aftermath may just send the film crashing down into the behind-the-scenes reality. [Le Monde]