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They would "kill a lot of people" before going to work each day, but deep down they are just passionate filmmakers, as Frédéric Fonteyne, the director of A Pornographic Affair tells ANDREW L. URBAN about his collaboration with writer Philippe Blasband.

Frédéric Fonteyne and Philippe Blasband, friends since film school, were on their way to a games arcade in the middle of Brussels when Blasband blurted out his idea for a novel, Une Liaison Pornographique. It was, of course, a love story, but unusual in that they meet through a newspaper ad looking for anonymous sex - she (played by Nathalie Baye) wants to fulfil a fantasy, and he (played by Sergi Lopez) responds. We never know much about them, not even their names. But the meetings become regular and emotions are ignited, the relationship develops, against their will.

"it was good for us"

"In those days," says a sniffling Fonteyne (suffering a nasty head cold) as he hits Sydney to promote the film, "we used to go to this games arcade a lot; it was good for us to kill a lot of people before work, or drive very fast around a track…Philippe was a very good driver, even before he got his licence." But those days are over now, he says ruefully. "Philippe has a little boy now so we don't go there much…"

The Fonteyne / Blasband friendship has lasted 12 years now, and to date, Fonteyne has not directed a single film that was not written by his collaborator. "I tried…I thought it would be good to work with someone else for once and then go back…but I couldn't find anything or anybody that worked out." The collaboration has spawned four award winning shorts and two feature films, with a third in development - called An American Film, in which Belgians are learning to speak English, and do it badly.

"I tried to put everything in it"

Their first film, Max & Bobo, "was typical of many first films," says a self-analytical Fonteyne. "I tried to put everything in it…it was about human beings, of course, and all their good and bad qualities….these two guys who hate each other. It's a buddy road movie done in Brussels…dealing with deep issues, very intense…..they vomit a lot in the film…" A note for trivia fans: Their first short was Bon anniversaire, Sergent Bob; their last short was Bob le Deplorable. Then the first feature, Max and Bobo. "Yes, I noticed it too," says Fonteyne. "But I don't know why…it's never the same person….we just like the name Bob…."

They were 17 when they met at film school (IAD - Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) and struck up a friendship. "But when we are together we don't talk about movies," says Fonteyne. "We talk about life and all sorts of stupid things." Indeed, they work alone: "he writes and I direct. It's a close relationship but we never work together. He writes very quickly, but spends a lot of time working it out in his head."

When Blasband first talked of his ideas for Pornographique, Foneyne had to convince him it would make a good film. Once convinced, though, Blasband came back with the first half of the script a week later, when they met at a terrace café at the Place de Brouckere.

In the film (known in English more crudely as A Pornographic Affair), the man and the woman are being interviewed by an unseen questioner, who sometimes gets mismatching answers, differing versions of their story, told from their recent memory of it. They met as strangers - and stay that way. "There are a lot of things I don't tell about them," says Fonteyne. "Their names, their jobs, who is interviewing them and why….Partly because I want to stay true to the contract they make at the first meeting, that they meet only for sex and they don't talk about themselves. I tried to make a film about abstract feelings and anonymous people."

"anybody can have some fantasy"

The two characters seem perfectly normal, middle class Parisians. "Yes, anybody can have some fantasy," says Fonteyne. But we never see that fantasy acted out - nor are we even told what it is. "If you show it," explains Fonteyne, "it has no more interest."

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Frédéric Fonteyne

Une Liaison Pornographique


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