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Cannes

Controversial Blue Is the Warmest Color director selling off his Palme d’Or to pay for new film

Abdellatif Kechiche is auctioning the prestigious Cannes Film Festival award

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Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Blue might be the warmest color for Abdellatif Kechiche, but these days, the 56-year-old filmmaker is seemingly only after a little green.

EW has confirmed with a representative for the Tunisian director — who won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival for helming the critically lauded, sexually explicit (and controversy-laden) lesbian drama Blue Is the Warmest Color — that he is selling the annual event’s highest honor in order to fund the completion of his next project, Mektoub, My Love, production on which was previously halted due to financial constraints. Kechiche’s camp did not elaborate on what proceeds from the auction will be used for, specifically.

According to a statement provided to THR, which first reported the news Wednesday, Kechiche’s work on the two-part film (which stars Lou Luttiau, Shain Boumediene and Ophelie Bau) was left “in limbo” after he revealed the picture’s financing bank, Cofiloisirs, abruptly blocked its line of credit.

“In order to raise the necessary funds for the completion of post-production without further delays, the French production and distribution company Quat’Sous is auctioning film memorabilia related to Kechiche’s work,” a statement reads. “Items to be offered range from the Palme d’Or (Cannes Film Festival 2013) to the oil paintings that played a central role in Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

Following his unprecedented splitting of the Palme d’Or with Blue actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, Kechiche additionally made headlines for what his stars alleged were “horrible” conditions on set. Both said they’d never work with Kechiche again, leading him to write a scathing op-ed in which he accused Seydoux of slandering him during the film’s press tour. (The Palme d’Or is typically bestowed upon a single director, though the 2013 Cannes jury — fronted by Steven Spielberg and comprised of industry professionals like Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman, Lynne Ramsay, Naomi Kawase, and Christoph Waltz — split the award between film’s trio.)

Upon its release in the U.S. on Oct. 25, 2013, Blue Is the Warmest Color received enthusiastic reviews and grossed $2.2 million on the specialty scene, though it failed to make the cut for the Oscars’ best foreign language film category. Academy rules state that a film must be released in its native country by late September, though Kechiche’s film didn’t bow in France until Oct. 9 of that year.

Mektoub, My Love reportedly follows a screenwriter, Amin, as he ventures to the Mediterranean for a summer holiday. A release date for the film has not been announced.