Ezekiel Film production

Heal The Living

fiction / drama

RELEASE DATE: 2016-11-02

RUNNING TIME: 1h40 min


It all starts at daybreak, three young surfers on the raging seas. A few hours later, on the way home, an accident occurs. Now entirely hooked up to life-support in a hospital in Le Havre, Simon’s existence is little more than an illusion. Meanwhile, in Paris, a woman awaits the organ transplant that will give her a new lease on life.



director's note

After studies in film and philosophy in Paris, Katell Quillevéré creates Rencontres du Moyen-Métrage of Brive with Sébastien Bailly in 2004 and organises the first three editions. In 2005, her first short With All My Might is screened at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes and selected for the 2007 Césars. She is once again present at the Directors' Fortnight in 2010 with a first feature film Love Like Poison, just crowned with the Jean Vigo Prize.

I discovered Maylis de Kerangal’s novel when it came out in January 2014. The book immediately captivated me. I couldn’t put it down and was totally shaken by the story it tells. The migration of one heart towards another, beyond the sheer dramatic power inherent in such a circumstance, opens up scientific, poetic and metaphysical perspectives.

I’m fascinated by the opposing elements here. On one hand, we have biomedicine’s modern and constantly evolving usages of the human body, and on the other, we have the age-old questions: where does life end, what is death, being, the symbolic nature of our body parts...

The tragedy that befalls the teenager also puts me in mind of the deep need each and every one of us has to transform the outrage and pain death causes us to feel, to defy the unalterable nature of our very condition. Suzanne, the main character in my second feature, was also haunted by loss, first that of her mother, then that of her sister. She was on an obsessive quest for resilience.

Beyond suffering, beyond life’s ups and downs, Suzanne finds her way and her instinct to live prevails. In adapting this novel for the screen I want to remain faithful to her open, luminous path, the one I also seek to follow as a director, so that the film will be an ode to the living.

In order to achieve this, Gilles Taurand and I felt we needed to flesh out the character of the woman receiving the heart. People waiting for a compatible organ are overwhelmed with emotion and doubt. Those who have undergone transplants will tell you that although the operations are technically honed to perfection, from an emotional and psychological standpoint they remain extremely complicated. Receiving the heart of an unknown person who has just died naturally forces one to examine one’s own desire to live. Claire is terrified of this transplant which, at the same time, will save her life. She confides in her children and her surgeon about her fears.

Maylis de Kerangal describes her book as a gestural song. Organ donation is not merely organic, there’s a sacred element involved. I’ve been exploring the theme of the sacred and the question of how to translate it visually, how to bring it to the screen, since my first feature, Love Like Poison [Un poison violent].

I think there’s always a feeling of transgression whenever you look beneath the skin, which is a natural frontier, the protector of our identity. Surgeons breach that barrier in the privacy of operating theaters as they carry out their mission of saving lives. But as a filmmaker, how can I get the viewer to accept certain potentially very disturbing and brutal anatomical images? It’s a fascinating challenge to illustrate, through these images, that in moments like these, with life and death hanging in the balance, the trivial meets the sacred.

Maylis de Kerangal gracefully moves from one character to another in her novel, exploring the very essence of each, never fearing she will digress from her subject. Such freedom is inherent to the written word. Cinema imposes a whole different set of constraints that at least have the merit of letting you focus on your desire to film.

And whenever I think about making this film, what I hope to transmit above all is the metaphysical sensation of the movement of a living entity, to render the flow of organic continuity as blood circulates through the human body. A heart stops beating in one body to prolong the life of another... an incredible journey, on which one human being becomes aware that they are a link in a chain, part of a whole. 



2015 Heal the Living – Feature film

2013 Suzanne – Feature film

2010 Love like poison – Feature film

2009 Cyprine - Feature film – 5 directors (pas d’affiche)

2009 L’échappée – Short film

2007 L’imprudence – Short film

2005 With All my Might – Short film

Katell Quillevéré

Katell Quillevéré