Amid Controversy, ‘Homecoming’ Director Catherine Corsini Addresses What She’d Do Differently Shooting Underage Sex Scenes — Cannes

Amid Controversy, ‘Homecoming’ Director Catherine Corsini Addresses What She’d Do Differently Shooting Underage Sex Scenes — Cannes

If you thought Maïwenn’s Johnny Depp movie Jeanne du Barry arrived at Cannes with a lot of baggage, Catherine Corsini’s Homecoming didn’t spare in its ruffling of French media feathers with stories about harassment of workers on the pic’s set and a masturbation scene involving minors.

Corsini and her producer Elisabeth Perez already addressed and defended themselves against several of these allegations in a published open letter in April, specifically that the masturbation scene in question between the film’s 15-year old and 17-year-old actors saw them “both dressed, and the scene filmed their faces” with “no touching or inappropriate contact between the two.”

On Thursday at a press conference after last night’s world premiere, Corsini reflected on what she’d do differently when shooting future sex scenes, while many of the actors from the film also at the conference defended their cinematic maestra as well. And as far as what the media thought when Corsini entered the room> They gave the Cannes Queer Palm-winning filmmaker rousing applause.

“I would ask myself more questions,” Corsini admitted on how she’d handle actors during intimate scenes on subsequent shoots. “We should have intimacy coaches so that the actors feel comfortable.”

“We did a lot of preparation for these scenes in any event,” she continued. “Today, I now realize these are important issues I might call an intimacy coach on.”

“Maybe I was too proud, too pretentious, [thinking] I have 35 years of experience, I can do more than an intimacy coach,” she said. “Perhaps, I might indeed need to be careful on ensuring that the actors feel fully at ease. I’ve made a lot of films, sometimes you don’t think about such issues.”

Homecoming follows Kheìdidja, who works for a wealthy Parisian family. They offer her the opportunity to take care of their children for a summer in Corsica. It’s an opportunity for her to return with her daughters, Jessica and Farah, to the island they left 15 years earlier in tragic circumstances. While Kheìdidja struggles with her memories, the girls embark on a summer of pleasure and discovery about their past. The intimate scenes in the film revolve around the sexual awakening of one of her daughters; two of the scenes in the film involve Jessica, naked from the waist up in a car with her young female lover, and another sequence entails her in attempted oral sex, a moment that goes sideways in a bathroom.

Catherine Corsini's movie 'Homecoming' (Le Retour)
‘Homecoming’ (Le Retour) Playtime

The masturbation scene in question never made it into final cut of the film. During the shoot, however, the production failed to alert the proper French authorities on the addition of the scene. Hence, the movie lost $513,000 of its state funding from France’s National Cinema Centre, and its commission overseeing productions involving minors. The CNC also reported the incident to the Prosecutor’s Office, though no individual complaints were lodged against the production or Corsini on any count.

“Cinema is the art of suggestion. The young people understood that. Without being constrained in any way, they refused an intimacy coach and body doubles, which were proposed to them with insistence, due to their confidence in the relationship they had with the director,” the open letter read.

The actors at the Cannes conference dais today backed up those statements.

Actress Aissatou Diallo Sagna said that she “took the time to work things out” in regards to her intimate scenes with actor Cedric Appietto, who acknowledged the production asked the actors for intimacy coaches.

Actress Suzy Bemba said she had worked with intimacy coaches in the past and “applied what I learned” in her scenes.

“I discussed the matter with Catherine beforehand. I felt the need to feel free. I didn’t need choreography,” added Bemba, who cited two weeks of rehearsal on the film.

“The idea was to create family, these strong links,” Corsini added.

On Wednesday, French producer Marc Missonnier posted on Twitter that Cannes pulled his accreditation after he blasted the fest for including Homecoming in its Competition lineup.

Questions about the mistreatment of crew on the set weren’t asked during today’s press conference, with the Cannes moderator atop the forum instructing press in the room to keep their questions pegged to the film.

As previously reported, labor representatives for the Homecoming crew called for an inspection of the set by the workplace health and safety body the CCHSCT, following allegations of harassment and poor working conditions.

Corsini and Perez’s open letter touched briefly on such accusations, saying they had always been “engaged against every form of violence and harassment on set.”