Lukas Dhont. Photo: Hunter Abrams, 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Lukas Dhont: 2 Golden Globe Nominations ‘Is Nothing but Happiness’

“Girl,” the story of a young trans dancer, was nominated as best foreign film at the 2018 Golden Globes. “Close,” about the friendship of two teenagers who are tragically separated, was nominated for foreign film at the 2023 Golden Globes. These two feature films were directed by Belgian Lucas Dhont, president of the Queer Palm jury for this 77th Cannes film festival.

In an exclusive interview, he spoke with the Golden Globes.

The Romanian film “Three Kilometers to the End of the World” (Trei Kilometri Pana La Capatul Lumii) by Emanuel Parvu follows the life of a teenager who is violently attacked for his homosexuality. It won the Queer Palm 2024. What is the origin of this award?

The Queer Palm was created 14 years ago. Each year it rewards a feature film and a short film from the Cannes selections, both from the official selection and from Un Certain Regard, the Critics’ Week and the Filmmakers’ Fortnight for example. It was an honor for me to chair the jury but I am not the only one to decide since I have four colleagues by my side who, like me, attended screenings of all the queer films of this 2024 edition of the Festival de Cannes. Our goal is to draw public attention to a queer film in the hope that this award will introduce it to many spectators.

How do you judge the evolution of queer cinema today?

I won the Queer Palm, as well as the Camera d’Or, at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for my first feature film ‘Girl’. I am the first to be able to judge positively the evolution of Queer cinema in 2024. This year there are 17 feature films that were eligible for the Queer Palm at Cannes. We have more opportunities to tell our stories and a wider audience who wants to see our films. But there is still a way to go so that all the sensitivities of my community can be expressed through the 7th art.

Does participating in the festival inspire you for new projects?

I like seeing the work of other artists and following the evolution of queer cinema around the world, but being in Cannes this year above all allows me to get out of my bubble and take a break. I’m in the middle of writing the script for my next film and I tend to shut myself away like a hermit. When I write, I isolate myself from the outside world. This offer to come to the festival immediately appealed to me even if I don’t like leaving my school desk when I’m researching my script.

What can you tell us about your next film?

Since my beginnings I have written what I know. If ‘Girl’ and ‘Close’ were above all stories about adolescence, I want to tell a more adult story but it is still much too early to go into details because I am only at the beginning of this feature film. I have the chance to work closely with my brother, Michiel, who is the producer of my projects and who traveled with me to Cannes, which allows us to continue to evolve on my next shoot while being at this festival.

You seem to want to space out the release of your films by 3 or 4 years. Why ?

This is the time I need to prepare, find my ideas, write, shoot, do post-production and then follow my films around the world. It may sound strange but I am an introvert who forgets his shyness when it comes to presenting my work to spectators. I literally spend long months practically not leaving the house to an intense period on the film sets then I lock myself away again for editing and I try to transform myself into an Ambassador for my film by traveling the planet of premiere festival or gala evenings.

Your first two feature films were each nominated at the Golden Globes…

Having been nominated twice for the Golden Globes is nothing but happiness! This allowed many Americans to discover my films and to have the chance to meet an international audience.

Since your first participation in the Golden Globes ceremony have you met American artists who made you want to shoot a film in the United States and in English?

I have had many encounters like that of Margot Robbie, whom I admire. But I believe my meeting with Emma Stone remains one of my best memories and I would love to collaborate one day with her but I have was far too shy during our brief chat to ask her if she had seen one of my films or not. In any case, for the moment I continue to write and shoot my films mixing Flemish and French because I am Belgian and proud of my origins.