Children who stop eating and society falters: the Cannes Film Festival went on an appetite suppressant diet on Monday with “Club Zero”, a cynical satire that the president of the jury Ruben Östlund would not deny.

The film, which opens with a warning against it for people who may have suffered from eating disorders, contains an explicit and perhaps even more sickening vomiting scene than the -unending- that the Swede offered the movie. last year to festival-goers in “Sans Filtre”, which won the Palme d’Or.

“Nutrition is a way to show the codes and rules that govern our society,” director Jessica Hausner told AFP. “When, in a dinner, one person does not eat, the others feel guilty or offended. This shows how strict and important (food) rules are in society”.

The hard-to-bear scene “is not there to make people uncomfortable. It’s to show how radicalization works,” she added.

This feature film, as a whole, denounces regimentation and sectarianism, while ironically addressing the neuroses of contemporary societies, the educational deficiencies of wealthy families, the inertia in the face of climate change or the obsession with “healthy eating”. .

“Club Zero” takes place in a prestigious school in an unidentified European country.

It revolves around a group of teenagers under the influence of Ms. Novak, played by Mia Wasikowska, a teacher who advocates “conscious eating”, going so far as to deprive herself completely of food and put the lives of all the pupils stakes.

“Sometimes I compare myself to someone who comes from another planet, who looks at us and (I imagine) what this person would think,” said the Austrian director.

Beyond eating disorders and sectarian aberrations, the film illustrates the anxieties of the youngest generations, confronted with climate change and inequalities.

“I still think, if I was a teenager now, I’d be so nervous with the world we’re inheriting,” Mia Wasikowska told AFP.

“I found it moving that these kids are taking this class because they care about the planet. A lot of them want to eat less meat and be more mindful. That’s the beautiful thing about being young. But everything it becomes corrupted, under influence.”

To prepare for the film, Jessica Hausner and the actress seen in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” researched cults and cults.

For the director, the teacher had to be sincere in her beliefs, rather than a manipulator. “She’s a true believer and she really believes she’s doing the right thing,” Wasikowska described.

The children and Ms Novak “start to believe in something that we would normally consider wrong and crazy. It’s very difficult to accept people sincerely believing in ideas that are devastating or destructive,” Jessica Hausner continued.

His latest feature film, “Little Joe”, was in competition at Cannes in 2019 and won actress Emily Beecham an interpretation award.

Like this film, “Club Zero” includes a whole work on the colors and the geometry of the decorations.

“I don’t set the films at a particular time or place. I try to create an artificial visual style,” said the director, who says she is “bored” by the naturalism.

05/22/2023 21:38:12 –         Cannes (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP