” Sleeping Beauty ”, a writer behind the camera

Julia Leigh © AFP

Julia Leigh is taking part in the Festival de Cannes with Sleeping Beauty, her first film, in Competition and in the running for the Caméra d’Or. A feature film for which the Australian director, author of two novels, has also written the script.

With degrees both in literature and in law, Julia Leigh very soon swayed toward literature. Her first novel, published in 1999, The Hunter, won numerous prizes and was adapted to film by Daniel Nettheim. Her second book, Disquiet, which also attracted considerable attention, came out in 2008, the year the writer wrote the script for Sleeping Beauty.
She wrote the first draft in only ten days. It is the story of a student who needed money, and who became involved in a strange network of sleeping beauties. She falls asleep. She wakes up. And it is as if nothing had happened, she has no recollection of what men do to her at night. It is a tale with multiple literary allusions. “I knew the fairy tale. I knew that King Solomon had young virgins brought to him from all over his realm to sleep alongside him.” The director had also read the short stories by Yasunari Kawabata and Gabriel Garcia Marquez that evoked the same theme. “The film is a response to all these things.”

But for Julia Leigh, the task of writing did not end with the script. “To explain how I saw it, I wrote a long note of my intentions in which I stated precisely everything that would appear on the screen, scene by scene.” A working method that seems logical for the Australian director, who adds, “In a sense, my literary world is my cinematographic world. It is one and the same thing.”




The film will be screened at 11:30 a.m. and at 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.