by writers/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
We are overwhelmed by the reaction we have received from audiences around the world to The Intouchables, and it is with great anticipation that we bring this story to America. Our film’s message transcends race, age, religion and class, and that was clearly evident by the diverse crowds that went to see it.
The Intouchables is based on the true story of a highly unlikely friendship between Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, a white, quadriplegic millionaire, and Abdel Sellou, a young ex-con of North-African origin, hired to be his live-in caregiver. The two men came from completely different backgrounds but learned to trust each other and develop a life-changing bond through honesty, mutual respect and subversive humor.
As filmmakers, we love having the creative freedom to transform a simple story like this one into a much larger message. It is very important to us to not only entertain but to be a part of something that starts smart conversation, and eventually leads to change. Today, it is more pertinent than ever to continue the conversations about the race and class issues in France.
Our aim was to make a feel-good film about friendship that would entertain audiences while maintaining the truth to Philippe's and Abdel's story. To our surprise the film has inspired an impassioned debate about one of France’s biggest social problems: socio-economic inequality between the privileged class and its marginalized neighbors, most of them having immigrant origins. An outpouring of articles, editorials, interviews and public discussions have pushed the subject into the bright glare of the media spotlight: immigrants and their direct descendants—from Morocco or Senegal, Algeria or Mali—are largely ghettoized in the projects outside of Paris with few opportunities to better their lives.
It would have been impossible to make a film this moving and entertaining without the genius of Omar Sy’s and François Cluzet’s performances. Both approached the roles as we approached making the film—with an open mind and a good sense of humor, and their chemistry off and on camera was remarkable.
We could not have predicted the overwhelming reception of The Intouchables in France. As the filmmakers of this tale of friendship, we set out to sketch an optimistic story in a realistic portrait of French society, one that combines the social and psychological gulf between French nativists and marginalized immigrants, between the upscale neighborhoods of Paris and the city's poor suburbs. We hope you will enjoy this film with your own best friend or family.