Watch: Gaspar Noé’s Surreal New Short Film for Saint Laurent

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Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lux ÆternaCourtesy of Saint Laurent

Lux Æterna, the latest iteration of Saint Laurent’s SELF series, premiered at Cannes this week

French-Argentinian filmmaker Gaspar Noé is something of the enfant terrible of Cannes: in 2015, he premiered the controversial Love at the festival, a charged erotic film in which the actors notoriously engage in unsimulated sex, and last year, Climax, a trippy horror about a dance troupe who drink LSD-laced sangria. (“It’s a dance party set in an upper-circle tier of hell,” said Rolling Stone of the latter.) This week, he returns to the French festival with the first screening of Lux Æterna, a 51-minute short film – or, as he deems “film essay” – starring Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, alongside a cast of other artists including Abbey Lee, Clara 3000, Paul Hameline and several others.

Lux Æterna is the fourth incarnation of Parisian house Saint Laurent’s SELF series, curated by creative director Anthony Vaccarello. “Last February Anthony proposed to support me if I had any idea for a short film. Two weeks later, in five days, with Béatrice and Charlotte we improvised this modest essay about beliefs and the art of filmmaking. Now the 51-minute baby is ready to scream,” said Noé. “Thank God, cinema is light flashing 24 frames-per-second.”

The film itself – described by Noé as “a vibrant essay on respect for beliefs, the actor’s craft, and the art of filmmaking” – sees Dalle and Gainsbourg play themselves in a parodic look behind-the-scenes of film-within-a-film God’s Work. It begins with a split screen conversation, part of which can be seen below, in which the duo discuss witches, and films they wished they never been in.

“Gaspard is one of the most talented artists nowadays. I always admire his work. It was an instinctive choice to me,” said Vaccarello. “I like his narrative approach, the whole process. We talked about experimental movies from the 60s and 70s, especially the ones from Kenneth Anger. The only thing I asked him was to improvise a story. Filming it with Béatrice and Charlotte was one of my inner darkest fantasies.”

Watch the clip below.