Road movie with a twist


The Adventures of Felix (Drôle de Félix, 2000), the second film by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau—on campus last week for a two-day Center for Gender Studies film conference—employs the familiar road-trip genre, following a young man on a quest for a father he has never met. Felix is a young Frenchman of Arab descent, gay, and HIV positive. During his journey across France he encounters characters including a racist thug and an elderly woman who not only takes him in but who also shares his love of a morning soap opera and his need for a large pill organizer. Though Felix never finds his father, he learns some lessons about paternity from a little boy, who matter-of-factly explains that his own biological father, those of his half-siblings, and even his mother’s current boyfriend are all “dad.”

After the screening, held last Saturday in Cobb Hall’s Film Studies Center, the filmmakers discussed the movie with the audience.image: uchiblogo “The film wasn’t marketed as a gay film in France,” Ducastel said, but rather as mainstream fare. Martineau added that not everyone who saw Felix in France even understood that its main character—who is seen taking medications but whose condition is never stated explicitly—is HIV positive. Another challenge, Martineau noted, had nothing to do with identity issues: France is “a small country,” so to “make France look wide” and remain consistent with the typically American road-trip flick, the filmmakers had Felix hitchhike rather than drive or take the train.

By Phoebe Maltz, ’05

January 24, 2005