Medhi Touré

Medhi Touré

120 Beats Per Minute (Grand Prix Cannes Film Festival )

Why is the film called 120 Beats per Minute (120 battements par minute)?
120 bpm is the rhythm of house music characters dance to in nightclubs, but above all it is the heart rate caused by fear, adrenaline released during militant action, and even orgasms.
How were you cast to act in 120 Beats per Minute?
I was scouted at a party in a Parisian nightclub by a friend of the film’s producer, Marie-Ange Luciani. I gave her my number and the casting director called me back soon after. She had actually already seen my Facebook profile.
What is your background?
I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve worked in fashion, music, and even on DJ sets.
After you had been chosen for the role, Robin Campillo gathered the cast together for three days. How did that go?
We all met in the lecture hall of a Parisian university. I think Robin wanted to get a feel for the group’s energy in the context of weekly meetings, which also make up part of the film.
It was pretty intense. We tried out a few scenes, and the magic started happening straight away. I had the impression of already watching the film. It was also the moment when I met all the talented actors, and we hit it off immediately.
How did you prepare for this role?
I think it’s important to say that I had never acted before. I knew straight away how lucky I was to take part in such a project. At the start, I rehearsed with a friend over a weekly drink (my own personal “weekly meetings”). It was a good way of not getting ahead of myself. I often lacked self-confidence during our sessions, and she really encouraged me. I also adopted a more formal approach, and worked on my script with my friend Samuel Theis, an actor and director. As time went on, we were all given access to documents from the French National Audio-Visual Institute, which record and portray the history of the ACT UP advocacy group. As for the specific character of my role (I play Germain, a member of the charity’s medical commission), I spoke with Philippe Mangeot, who co-wrote the screenplay of the film with Robin, and who is a former member of ACT UP. I had to learn a number of medical concepts in order to better understand the stakes of the charity’s struggles against laboratories you see in the film.
How would you describe your relationship with cinema?
Long-standing! I studied cinema when I was at university. It didn’t lead to anything, but I learned how to really watch a film. I watch a lot of movies from all sorts of different genres. I don’t always go and see films at the cinema, but I always stay up-to-date with the latest releases and I keep a list of films I want to watch. Visual arts are hugely important to me.
Your first film won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Have you read all the reviews?
It’s absolutely incredible! I haven’t read them all, but the enthusiastic questions from journalists at the press conference made me understand something big was happening.
"Things have improved but it’s not enough. There are still inequalities. You only have to watch the news to see them. When societies have decided to regress instead of progress, the most important thing is to never give up." [Medhi Touré]
How do you see all of this hype about the Cannes film Festival?
I haven’t really come back down to earth since Cannes. I also saw the film for the first time at the festival, and I’m still getting my breath back, I’m so proud to have been a part of Robin Campillo’s project.
Now you have a little perspective, do you think the topic is less taboo today? Do you think there is less distinction between people with AIDS and others who are totally disconnected?
Public opinion has changed compared with the early 90s. People are unfortunately more familiar with AIDS, but I think there is still something of a gap between these two groups.
Do you really think that battles have been won and that society has truly changed for LGBT people since the events depicted in the film?
I’m going to use a fairly obvious cliché: yes, battles have been won, but not the war. Today, people have access to treatments, you can live with the illness, and we are more informed thanks to less hypocritical preventative campaigns. The same thing can be said about society’s relationship with LGBT people. Things have improved but it’s not enough. There are still inequalities. You only have to watch the news to see them. When societies have decided to regress instead of progress, the most important thing is to never give up.
Did the film make you think about your own commitment, your role as an activist, and the different ways you can engage?
Acting in this film inevitably makes you think. I realise I am part of a more individualistic generation, but a not more unaware one. Maybe more defeatist, too. This experience opened my eyes to the bravery of activists in the past, but also taught me about those fighting today. I don’t know if there is a “right” way to act, but you shouldn’t be scared of doing it, and not only for LGBT people.
The debate scenes are central to the film. Were they scripted, or did you just improvise?
There was a script, which was subject to a lot of changes. But over the initial three days of preparation, Robin didn’t want us to rehearse too much. He didn’t want us to freeze our roles, in order to use the energy and freedom of the debates that have been so brilliantly transposed onto the screen.
Do you have any future projects?
120 Beats per Minute gave us all so much motivation! I’m currently making solid progress with a musical project as a singer and sound producer. I’m hoping to present it really soon.
I would also like to keep acting. I had a small role in Philippe Faucon’s series Fiertés which will be released on the Arte television channel next year.
As it happens, I’m actually looking for an agent!
So… what’s it like to party in Cannes?
Luckily, I was partying long before I went to Cannes!
Photos : 120 Beats Per Minute

Medhi Touré

120 Beats Per Minute (Grand Prix Cannes Film Festival )

Why is the film called 120 Beats per Minute (120 battements par minute)?
120 bpm is the rhythm of house music characters dance to in nightclubs, but above all it is the heart rate caused by fear, adrenaline released during militant action, and even orgasms.
How were you cast to act in 120 Beats per Minute?
I was scouted at a party in a Parisian nightclub by a friend of the film’s producer, Marie-Ange Luciani. I gave her my number and the casting director called me back soon after. She had actually already seen my Facebook profile.
What is your background?
I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve worked in fashion, music, and even on DJ sets.
After you had been chosen for the role, Robin Campillo gathered the cast together for three days. How did that go?
We all met in the lecture hall of a Parisian university. I think Robin wanted to get a feel for the group’s energy in the context of weekly meetings, which also make up part of the film.
It was pretty intense. We tried out a few scenes, and the magic started happening straight away. I had the impression of already watching the film. It was also the moment when I met all the talented actors, and we hit it off immediately.
How did you prepare for this role?
I think it’s important to say that I had never acted before. I knew straight away how lucky I was to take part in such a project. At the start, I rehearsed with a friend over a weekly drink (my own personal “weekly meetings”). It was a good way of not getting ahead of myself. I often lacked self-confidence during our sessions, and she really encouraged me. I also adopted a more formal approach, and worked on my script with my friend Samuel Theis, an actor and director. As time went on, we were all given access to documents from the French National Audio-Visual Institute, which record and portray the history of the ACT UP advocacy group. As for the specific character of my role (I play Germain, a member of the charity’s medical commission), I spoke with Philippe Mangeot, who co-wrote the screenplay of the film with Robin, and who is a former member of ACT UP. I had to learn a number of medical concepts in order to better understand the stakes of the charity’s struggles against laboratories you see in the film.
How would you describe your relationship with cinema?
Long-standing! I studied cinema when I was at university. It didn’t lead to anything, but I learned how to really watch a film. I watch a lot of movies from all sorts of different genres. I don’t always go and see films at the cinema, but I always stay up-to-date with the latest releases and I keep a list of films I want to watch. Visual arts are hugely important to me.
Your first film won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Have you read all the reviews?
It’s absolutely incredible! I haven’t read them all, but the enthusiastic questions from journalists at the press conference made me understand something big was happening.
"Things have improved but it’s not enough. There are still inequalities. You only have to watch the news to see them. When societies have decided to regress instead of progress, the most important thing is to never give up." [Medhi Touré]
How do you see all of this hype about the Cannes film Festival?
I haven’t really come back down to earth since Cannes. I also saw the film for the first time at the festival, and I’m still getting my breath back, I’m so proud to have been a part of Robin Campillo’s project.
Now you have a little perspective, do you think the topic is less taboo today? Do you think there is less distinction between people with AIDS and others who are totally disconnected?
Public opinion has changed compared with the early 90s. People are unfortunately more familiar with AIDS, but I think there is still something of a gap between these two groups.
Do you really think that battles have been won and that society has truly changed for LGBT people since the events depicted in the film?
I’m going to use a fairly obvious cliché: yes, battles have been won, but not the war. Today, people have access to treatments, you can live with the illness, and we are more informed thanks to less hypocritical preventative campaigns. The same thing can be said about society’s relationship with LGBT people. Things have improved but it’s not enough. There are still inequalities. You only have to watch the news to see them. When societies have decided to regress instead of progress, the most important thing is to never give up.
Did the film make you think about your own commitment, your role as an activist, and the different ways you can engage?
Acting in this film inevitably makes you think. I realise I am part of a more individualistic generation, but a not more unaware one. Maybe more defeatist, too. This experience opened my eyes to the bravery of activists in the past, but also taught me about those fighting today. I don’t know if there is a “right” way to act, but you shouldn’t be scared of doing it, and not only for LGBT people.
The debate scenes are central to the film. Were they scripted, or did you just improvise?
There was a script, which was subject to a lot of changes. But over the initial three days of preparation, Robin didn’t want us to rehearse too much. He didn’t want us to freeze our roles, in order to use the energy and freedom of the debates that have been so brilliantly transposed onto the screen.
Do you have any future projects?
120 Beats per Minute gave us all so much motivation! I’m currently making solid progress with a musical project as a singer and sound producer. I’m hoping to present it really soon.
I would also like to keep acting. I had a small role in Philippe Faucon’s series Fiertés which will be released on the Arte television channel next year.
As it happens, I’m actually looking for an agent!
So… what’s it like to party in Cannes?
Luckily, I was partying long before I went to Cannes!
Photos : 120 Beats Per Minute