Whether evoking the pain of first love or investigating the challenges of the contemporary immigrant experience, Tunisian-French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche depicts human behavior in all its unruly complexity. In 2007, his gift for infusing rich, classically structured narratives with documentary-like authenticity resulted in the four-time César Award–winning The Secret of the Grain, a roving, multigenerational drama that follows a French-Arab family thrown into discord when the patriarch decides to pursue his dream of opening a portside restaurant specializing in North African cuisine. With its intimate exploration of the central role that food plays in forging cultural identity and familial relationships, the film becomes something more than a mere “imitation of life—it’s the rumbling real thing,” as Wesley Morris writes in his liner notes for our release.
This week, our complete edition of The Secret of the Grain goes live on the Criterion Channel, and among the special features are interviews with Kechiche and his collaborators that reveal the process behind the film’s making. In the below excerpt, the writer-director discusses his interest in illuminating the everyday lives of the working class and the way he reconciles the artifice of cinema with the realities he seeks to capture.