Pop culture guru David Ferguson is back, taking a look at the work and activism of the queer French actor Félix Maritaud.
Watching the movie Sauvage at the GAZE Film Festival was the first time I was introduced to Félix Maritaud. He played a homeless male sex worker, called Léo, longing for love on the streets of Strasbourg.
His performance was a revelation and earned him a Rising Star Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The actor has said “what’s interesting to catch on camera is more an energy, something more fluid than a definition of codified, psychological things that people used to think as the way to define or describe characters.”
Director Camille Vidal-Naquet had been reluctant to cast Maritaud until meeting the actor and seeing the “tenderness and fragility” the character required. While it may be considered as a breakthrough role for Félix Maritaud, it wasn’t the first time he left a big impression.
He had previously starred in Robin Campillo’s modern classic BPM (Beats Per Minute), playing Max, one of the more militant members of the Paris chapters of ACT UP. The film showed the group’s struggle to effect action during the AIDS epidemic.
Maritaud got rave reviews, being heralded as “the new hero of French queer cinema” in the pages of Têtu, France’s most popular gay magazine. He later laughed this off saying “I’m happy to hear that I’m part of queer cinema. My culture is queer. I’m a product of queer culture. Being queer is my life. I make movies that speak to queer people from queer people. But I don’t think of the movies I’ve made as queer cinema.”
He went on to say, “What was interesting about BPM (Beats per Minute) the movie, for example, was that people came from everywhere. You didn’t have to be queer for it to speak to you.”
That is one of the things that appeal to me about the actor. He is unashamedly queer. It is visible in his choice of films which also include Knife+Heart (a film about a serial killer who targets gay porn stars), I Am Jonas (a coming-of-age film where he plays the adult version of Jonas) and the short film Dustin (where he plays the boyfriend of a transwoman).
He also proved to be a true ally earlier this year on Instagram when he gave a spotlight to his trans and non-binary friends with various posts. After this cost him followers, he responded, “I did lost almost 100 followers posting pictures of my close friends which had always made me a better person. Most of the people following this page are gay cis males, if you have any issues with transgender or non-binary people, well get the fuck out of this account you don’t deserve our shiny hearts.”
Suffice to say he is a must follow on Instagram and this just made me want to support his work even more.
You can check out more of David Ferguson’s pop culture musings here.
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