Acts of Love: Directors Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay’s Personal Docu

In their genre-bending documentary, Acts of Love, Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay explore love, intimacy and the unraveling of a relationship.

Acts of Love Still

In Acts of Love, the directors Isidore Bethel and Francis Leplay try to ground love to a distinct and definable set of emotions or actions.

Premiering at the Canadian International Documentary Festival, this genre-bending film explores the slow unraveling of a relationship between Bethel and his older boyfriend.

The docu opens with a sequence of iPhone photos, an aerial shot of a neighborhood block, a harsh crop of the back of a man’s head at a gallery. These images are accompanied by a chilling voiceover by Bethel, recounting how he met his lover and describing their tenuous relationship. “Now it’s summer, you’re traveling and so am I,” he says. “You made no promises about seeing me again, but I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Acts of Love is a directionless project, or so Bethel says during his chats with these strangers. But the film follows a clear narrative arc, posing relevant questions in an attempt to understand intimacy in a relationship where boundaries are never made clear.

Bethel chats with 900 men and meets 12 in person before deciding on the four to be in the film. Their conversations start in Bethel’s studio, covering such issues as how Grindr has changed their views on dating and courtship, their waning libidos, their sexual preferences and subcultures.

After these studio meetings, the doc moves in a more experimental direction. The “actors” are given scripts, inspired by those early encounters, and asked to perform scenes with Bethel.


Distributor: Outplay Films
Production companies: Hutong Productions, Sin Sitio Cine
Directors, writers: Isidore Bethel, Francis Leplay
71 minutes