French-Algerian Rom-Com: “Three nights a week” directed by Florent Gouëlou

On November 9 the movie Three Nights a Week, directed by Florent Gouëlou was released in theatres, an atypical and cheerful film, the first French romantic comedy about the world of drag queens.

After the long-awaited adaptation of RuPaul’s Drag Race, here is the first French film – and a romantic comedy at that – about the world of drag queens, Trois nuits par semaine, by Florent Gouëlou. The director, who had the honor of seeing his first feature film open the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, has been playing Javel Habibi for four years. “Javel is a character of an Arab-Andalusian woman – to embrace my Algerian origins – inspired by my mother and great actresses such as Fanny Ardant or Catherine Deneuve,” he explains.

In Three Nights a Week, Baptiste, a straight man, discovers drag queens and falls in love with one of them, Cookie Kunty. “I wanted my film to be an invitation to immerse oneself in this milieu. So I chose a character who knows nothing about this world, to start from scratch,” explains Florent Gouëlou. It’s a film about first times, and it’s also a personal commitment. My drag is very much about the collective, about sharing, and I am very sensitive to the question of hospitality towards the public. Even if Three Nights a Week does not manifest its political commitment, does not name it, it is nevertheless central.”

The intimacy of a drag queen

The director wanted the main subject of his film to be a love story, taking care to avoid exoticism. The biggest obstacle was not the fact that a straight man falls in love with a queen, but that she is not available because her art takes up too much space in her life,” he says. I wanted to tell the story of the intimacy of a drag queen who has to live with her character and cohabit with her alter ego. A real love story for three! Florent Gouëlou’s other priority was to avoid sexualizing the drag characters: “Drag is not a sexual practice or a kink, even if we play with the codes of seduction. Of course, Baptiste falls in love with an image, but we had to be clear. I didn’t want to film drag as something sordid or sinister, but to show people passionate about their art, capable of great sacrifice.”

As for the choice of the heroine, it was not complicated, since Cookie Kunty – Romain Eck in the city – knows the director well. In Beauty Boys, my fifth short film, I directed her as a fantastic creature,” he explains. I wanted to show the magical creature, the fairy tale princess, but also Cinderella after midnight. Romain put his character at the disposal of the film and agreed to show Cookie’s ‘off’, but also emotional states that a drag queen does not show.” If Three Nights a Week is a generous introduction to the world of drag, it also allows everyone to see themselves in it: “It’s a film about living together and being kind,” concludes Florent Gouëlou. It is made for the audience to enjoy and have a good time. It’s a romantic comedy with a social anchor.” Shantay, you stay!

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