By Julien Pretot
CANNES, France (Reuters) - Solveig Anspach's "The Together Project" (L'Effet Aquatique) got a long standing ovation at a Cannes Film Festival "Directors Fortnight" showing, described by her co-writer as cathartic after the director's death last year.
The cast and crew - most of them also involved in Anspach's two previous films: "Lulu Femme Nue" and "Queen of Montreuil" - burst into tears after the screening.
Jean-Luc Gaget, a long-time collaborator of the American-Icelandic director, took over the editing process after Anspach died of cancer aged 54 before she could finish the film.
"It was solace to see that the film was here (in Cannes), that she was here with us. It was a cathartic moment that we'd been waiting for a long time because it was tough to finish this movie without her," Gaget told Reuters.
"We were all very proud that this movie was here."
"The Together Project", set in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, tells the story of Samir, who pretends he cannot swim to take up lessons with local life guard Agathe after falling in love with her in a bar.
The indie romantic comedy sees Samir following Agathe to a life guard congress in Iceland, posing as the Israel delegate.
"The work and the projects helped her live longer," Gaget said. "We worked as if it did not exist, as if there would always be a tomorrow."
"I think it gave us more strength. Obviously Solveig felt time was pressing, but it gave her more focus on the present and in cinema present is what matters," he said.
Anspach won two Cesars, the French version of the Oscars, in 2000 and 2015. Her last film to show at Cannes was "Stormy Weather" in 2003.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)