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“Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi did not analyze the power relations at play at Les Amandiers”

The Almond Trees, the film by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, and the controversies that surround it seem to be crystallizing a generational conflict in cinema and theater. The director reconstructs her experience as a student at the school founded in the 1980s at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre by directors Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Romans. Nadia Tereszkiewicz plays the role of Stella, the filmmaker’s double, while Sofiane Bennacer plays Etienne, inspired by Thierry Ravel, Bruni-Tedeschi’s former companion, also a student at the school, who died of an overdose, in 1991.

November 22, The Parisian revealed that Sofiane Bennacer had been indicted in October for “rape and violence against spouses” following complaints from four women.

Shortly after the start of filming, can we read in Release of November 25, the production of almond trees had already learned that a rape complaint had been filed against its lead actor, but the director had insisted on working with him regardless. Bruni-Tedeschi continues to defend the one who has meanwhile become his companion, invoking the ” presumption of innocence “ and speaking of a “media lynching”.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The Sofiane Bennacer affair embarrasses French cinema

Beyond the case itself, the accusations against the comedian and the way Bruni-Tedeschi reacts to them amplify some of the questions raised by the film. Endowed with an undeniable charm and vitality, The Almond Trees shows the theatrical utopia that this school was, the euphoria of the students at having been chosen, the friendships and loves that were born between them, their enthusiasm, their fantasy, their exuberance, their admiration for their mentors, the touching and sometimes childish of these. We smile, we laugh a lot.

But, from time to time, a scene makes you jump. We see Chéreau (Louis Garrel) forcing a student to kiss him one evening when they are the last in the premises. We also see his brutality towards Anaïs (Léna Garrel), whom he publicly humiliates by telling her that he never wanted her in school.

A forced kiss

The character of Anaïs is probably inspired by Agnès Jaoui. In 2018, retracing the epic of the Almond Trees, in The world of August 3, Clément Ghys wrote: “Machismo reigns and they [les apprenties actrices] Monumental soaps are taken in case of delay or forgetting of replies. When it’s not about thoughts on the physical. Soon enough, Agnès Jaoui can’t take it anymore, and, ulcerated by Chéreau’s hold on everyone, thinks about leaving school. »

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