Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Blue Is the Warmest Color

Beginning today, FilmLinc Daily will spotlight films debuting in the 51st New York Film Festival's Main Slate, starting out with Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Color, the controversial love story that shocked some at the Cannes Film Festival due to its sexually explicit story between two young women.

The gay marriage controversy is not unique to the U.S. Reporting from Cannes, Film Society's Eugene Hernandez noted that he happened upon a demonstration in Paris just days before the French parliament passed marriage rights for same sex couples. Two weeks later, Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg announced that the festival's highest honor, the Palme d'Or, was awarded to Blue Is the Warmest Color on the same day that a much larger demonstration of 150,000 people came out to protest the new French law.

Noted Hernandez: “Well-known French actress Lea Seydoux praised the movie as 'a witness to our time,' while newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos said, 'If it can show everyone tolerance, then it's gratifying.' Tunisian-born French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche revealed, 'It taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom.'” Along with the Palme d'Or, the jury awarded the two actresses an honor for their courage in making the film.

The controversy appears have followed the film across the Atlantic ahead of its NYFF debut. Sundance Selects, which will release the film Stateside in late October, said it will accept an NC-17 rating, preferring to show the film in its entirety instead of making cuts to secure a more release-friendly R rating. “The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion,” said Sundance Selects head Jonathan Sehring this week after announcing the film would carry an NC-17. “We refuse to compromise Kechiche's vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that Blue is The Warmest Color will play in theaters around the country regardless.”

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Blue Is the Warmest Color

Said Spielberg when awarding the Palme d'Or: “[It's] a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to see this story of deep love and deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning. We didn't think about how it was going to play, we just were really happy that someone had the courage to tell this story the way he did… The issue of gay marriage is one that many brave states in America are resolving in a way that suits all of us that are in favor of gay marriage. But I think actually this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message.”

Blue Is The Warmest Color
France, 2013, 179 min.
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Writers: Julie Maroh, Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Jeremie Laheurte, Catherine Salée, Aurélien Recoing

NYFF Official Description:

Abdellatif Kechiche’s newest film, based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, was the sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival even before it was awarded the Palme d’Or. Adèle Exarchopoulos is Adèle, a young woman whose longings and ecstasies and losses are charted across a span of several years. Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) is the older woman who excites her desire and becomes the love of her life. Kechiche’s movie is, like the films of John Cassavetes, an epic of emotional transformation. Blue pulses with gestures, embraces, furtive exchanges, and arias of joy and devastation, some verbal and some physical (including the film’s now celebrated sexual encounters between the two actresses). Kechiche achieves something altogether rare: a fully dimensional portrait of a human being that is at once behaviorally acute, class-specific and miraculously alive to the surprises of the living moment; and a work of cinema that unfolds and develops like a piece of music. A Sundance Selects release. Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.