To Live, To Die, To Live Again: love survives the AIDS years


Gaël Morel unveils a film which is crucially important to him at Cannes Première. With Vivre, Mourir, Renaître, (to Live, To Die, To Live Again) the director of À toute vitesse tells the story of a love triangle devastated by the outbreak of HIV, in a tale he hopes will be restorative.

Emma loves Sammy, who loves Cyril, who loves him back. They are in their twenties, their life before them, until a virus strikes, and the spectre of death looms over them. They expect the worst, but will it happen?

Before Vivre, Mourir, Renaître, Gaël Morel planned to direct a documentary about the people saved from AIDS by combination therapies developed in the 1990s. But the story he really wanted to tell was more about youth blighted by illness, using the medium of fiction.

“The main subject is a love story, changed and intensified by illness,” the director explains. “It is a love story on the side of life, a life that continues and persists despite tragedy waiting in ambush. I hope this is a consoling, restorative film.”

French cinema has covered the AIDS outbreak since the 1990s. From Les Nuits Fauves (Savage Nights) by Cyril Collard (1992), an ode to the thirst for life, to 120 Battements par minute (BPM(Beats per minute)) by Robin Campillo (Festival de Cannes Grand Prix winner, 2017) and not forgetting Mauvais sang (Bad blood) by Leos Carax. Gaël Morel actually revisits Denis Lavant’s running scene to “Modern Love”, from that last film, giving it a whole new direction.

Vivre, Mourir, Renaître is a crucially important film for its director, which re-awakened feelings from his 22-year-old self, when he shot his first feature film, À toute vitesse. He hopes it will touch and encourage young people all over again: “It’s my gift: your move.”