Ahead of the 28th Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Asia Times spoke with Océane Rose Marie, the writer, director and actress behind the festival’s opening film, Embrace Moi! (Kiss Me!), about her movie and about lesbian romantic comedies more widely.
Can you first introduce yourself and your new film to our Hong Kong readers?
My name is Océane Rose Marie, I am a writer, director, actress, comedian – the list is too long. I just made this movie called Embrace Moi! (Kiss Me!), which will be released in Hong Kong on Saturday at the 28th Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Embrace Moi! is the story of Oceanrosemarie (Océane Rose Marie), a very charismatic and sociable osteopath, who falls for a beautiful photographer Cécile (Alice Pol). However, Oceanrosemarie has a lot of ex-girlfriends and has a rather crazy family, plus she likes to party with a lot of girls! Cécile is a complete opposite, she is very reserved and pursuing her dream of becoming an artist. The film is about their love story.
You played the lead character Oceanrosemarie in this film, is this character you or it’s an imaginary character?
Oceanrosemarie is not me, but she is also not a complete stranger also. She is like the bigger than life version of myself, the worse and the better. The character is very inspired from my personal experience, and then I exaggerated …. For example, I would not stand on a table with a bra, and my exes are not so mean. But the fact that the character has a lot of exes is also my situation, and the fact that when she falls in love, she thinks ‘Oh, this is the girl of my life’, is also my case. We are both in love with love maybe. In this way I think the character had to be somehow inspired from my life.
Why did you choose to present Embrace Moi! as a romantic comedy?
There are very strong reasons behind this choice. First of all, I was very into comedy – it was my style, and me being on stage is to make jokes, so this is a thing. But then, I also think it is very important for lesbians to have representations and identifications to a character who doesn’t die or kill people because she is a lesbian. I want to go out of these representations that are so bad and negative. So, it’s so important for me to offer a positive representation of a lesbian in my film.
When I was a teenager everyone had good romantic comedies. They have all those fabulous movies like Bridget Jones. But we lesbians have nothing – or we only have depressed girls and serial killers. We deserve to have a fine, nice and sweet and funny romantic comedy. I missed it as a teenager and I wanted this movie to exist. I wasn’t thinking of doing it myself. I was waiting for somebody to do it, but nobody has done it – so I was like, okay, I am going to do it.
And also because, I think homosexuality is always a subject in films. For me, it should not be a subject anymore … To me it is very important to make a move that is not about homosexuality equals problem. It is important for me to make a story that is just a love story, so a 15-year-old teenager can go see [it] and say, ‘Oh, we are the same, falling in love and trusting someone is difficult no matter [if] you are gay or not’. It’s a feel good movie, it’s not intellectual, it’s not so complicated. It’s not about the suffering of being a lesbian, it’s about love.
Is it difficult to break certain lesbian stereotypes while making the film?
In my film it is very important to have those two very different girls who fall in love. One is my character, Oceanrosemarie, who is more masculine, and Cécile, on the other hand, is more feminine. I’m very obsessed with details, I want to represent a very diverse community; like the extras you see in the parties – I like to have different styles of women, from very masculine to very feminine, from white people to Asians to black people. We have this problem in France, if you don’t pay attention to it you end up with all whites in a film. And I was always fighting with that. It is important for people to have characters to identify with.
What are the audiences’ reaction after seeing your film?
In Paris, most of the people you know have no problems about people being gay. But if you go to small towns outside of Paris it could be very different. So when I went to small cities I can feel how important the movie is to the girls. There was this girl who told me, when Blue is the Warmest Color came out she was praying so hard that her parents wouldn’t go to see it, but, she took all her family members to see the Embrace Moi! screening. It is so “feel good”, parents can have fun and laugh. The film is helping them in their lives. That’s the reason why I did this movie, so that people can feel better and relax.
Do you have anything to say to the Hong Kong audiences?
First of all, I am so happy to be here. I fell in love with Hong Kong the moment I got here – it’s so cool. I really love this city, and I am so happy to meet people from this part of the world. I hope we can talk and have an exchange on how people live here, and how it is to be gay in Hong Kong. I’m very interested to know and interested to learn. Also I have to tell people from Hong Kong that if they’ve never been to France, and after watching this film they think, ‘Oh, France is the best place in the world to by gay’, I will have to say, ‘Well, this film is not the reality’. It’s an anticipating film, it is how the world should be, or how the world will be in 15 years or so. Even in France, it’s not so idealistic. But we have to have dreams, and live one hour and a half in a very sweet and nice world – this is cinema. So, I invite them to come and enjoy, and dream with us.
Embrace Moi! (Kiss Me!) is screening in Hong Kong on September 9. For tickets information please visit: http://www.hklgff.hk.