SHQFF’s very own programmer, Miss Jing Yu, a valiant cinema freak and fearless film industry professional, reports directly from BPM(Beats Per Minute)’s premiere at the 70th Cannes International Film Festival. This festival favorite, a brilliant queer cinema masterpiece, inspired her to share her experience of it with us. So here it is, a fresh-out-of-the-oven review, just for you.
The director of BPM, Robin Campillo, was last at Cannes in 2008, when he wrote the screenplay for The Class(Entre les murs), which won the Palme d’Or. The excitement his new film has stirred at Cannes has cemented his reputation for understanding and capturing characters and their relationships on screen as second to none. It certainly gives Laurent Cantet, the director of The Class, a run for his money.
The story is straightforward: in the early 1990s in France, an AIDS advocacy group rises up and fights the pharmaceutical companies whose monopoly has limited access to life saving medication.
The film doesn’t shy away from portraying the fraught and conflicted politics within this group of radicals. Campillo uses his camera as a cool, sensitive and observant eye, under which the idiosyncrasies and political aggressiveness of his characters come vividly to life before we’ve even learned their names.
Telling the story through an ensemble cast, Campillo explores the group from within as his first task. They have diverse identities and personalities: HIV-positive gay men, the mother of a teenager, fresh-faced college students who have just come out, a deaf-mute who communicates through an interpreter and some idealistic feminists come together under one premise. They have weekly meetings in a classroom, but other than that, their lives don’t intersect. Interestingly, their daily lives are never revealed. What brings them together is their daring and resolute queerness.