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Bertrand Bonello Defends ‘Nocturama,’ His Controversial Terrorism Thriller: ‘There Are a Lot of Haters’

The film hits too close to home for many viewers.


Nocturama” will soon open in theaters, but its journey hasn’t been easy.

A story about a group of Parisian teenagers who plot and pull off a deadly terrorist attack, Bertrand Bonello’s icy thriller had the misfortune of being completed after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Now the “House of Tolerance” and “Saint Laurent” director has opened up in a new piece for Artforum to discuss how “Cannes didn’t want the film” and the ways in which “haters” online hurt its chances of success.

Bonello has premiered several films on the Croisette, making “Nocturama” conspicuous in its absence at last year’s edition of the festival; many suspected the film’s subject matter was the reason for its exclusion. “It was very difficult for people to see this kind of narrative,” writes Bonello, who admits that the film “was too tough for some audiences to watch.” “Nocturama” is a powerful, bracing experience, and Bonello knows it: “When you mix reality and abstraction, it speaks to the success and the power of cinema.”

He then goes in depth on the Cannes problem:

“Cannes didn’t want the film, so we decided to go to the Toronto and San Sebastian festivals. The exclusion from Cannes probably didn’t help for sales and at the box office. There were so many articles and messages on online social networks that said the film was not selected at Cannes because of its subject. The controversy began from there, and it was difficult to stop it. Of course, I wonder how the film would have been received if it were released two years before. The French critics understood it. My problem was with the social networks, the blogs. There are a lot of haters on these platforms.”

Perhaps with time and distance, “Nocturama” will fare better when it opens stateside on August 11 courtesy of Grasshopper Film. Read Bonello’s full piece here.

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