World premiere for Mirage d’Amour by Hubert Toint
by Aurore Engelen
- The debut feature by Hubert Toint, Mirage d’Amour, with Marie Gillain, Jean-Louis Stévenin and Eduardo Paxeco, was screened at the Mons Film Festival
Chile, 1929, the Atacama Desert, Pampa-Terminal. Hirondelle’s heart doesn’t just beat for music, and for her widowed father who raised her since her mother passed away. A pianist in the town cinema, she lives by proxy to the rhythm of the used reels that lead her far from her mining village devastated by poverty and Ibanez’s repressive presidency. Her small town, once a land of hope and exile, has a disparate mix of immigrants come in search of a better world, a new Babel in which languages mix to the sound of local fanfare. And then one day, naturally, a handsome trumpeter comes knocking on the door to Hirondelle’s heart. She barely has the time to abandon herself to her passion when history catches up with her, and comes to put a tragic end to this unduly fleeting happiness.
Mirage d’Amour [+see also:
interview: Hubert Toint
film profile], (lit. Love Mirage) the movie by Hubert Toint, is simultaneously a historic tale, a love story and the story of a relentlessly oppressed social struggle. While the unionists are closely watched by the authorities, backed up by some over-zealous villagers, the rest of the population tries to resist the economic repression that’s crushing the region following the collapse of the salpeter mining industry. Some of them go crazy, like that man in the middle of the street clinging to his phone, or the father dressed up as a devil who cries out in pain after losing his third child in childbirth. Village life rotates around a few key places: the brothel, where the men drown their sorrows in sex and music; the barber shop, where revolutionary unionists meet in semi-clandestine conditions; the cinema, where Hirondelle works; and the train station terminus, a symbolic place where dramas occur. The photography by the late Carlo Varini shows the majestic landscapes of the Atacama Desert in all of their splendour, and gives some of the village scenes, particularly the moonlit nocturnal scenes, an aura of magic realism, in the great tradition of the South American novel. Like a fairytale, or even a nursery rhyme, the movie is interrupted by the flight of Chinese lanterns that enter the Pampa-Terminal sky.
Mirage d’Amour is the first feature by Toint, known better to date for his work as a producer and co-producer. In particular, we have him to thank for Two Days in New York [+see also:
film profile], Hitler in Hollywood [+see also:
film profile], Surviving with Wolves [+see also:
film profile], Lady Chatterley [+see also:
film profile] and Darwin’s Nightmare. It’s a unique and multi-faceted project. With this movie, Hubert Toint carries the torch of an unfinished project by actor Bernard Giraudeau, which should have been produced by Bernard Rapp, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Hernan Rivera Letelier, published in 1998. Hubert Toint, involved very early on in the production of the project, has thus allowed the project to survive upon the death of its initiators, and along the way realised one of his dreams, he who began his career as a director, before founding Saga Film in 1987. On this occasion, he returns to work with Marie Gillain, having produced one of her first films, Marie by Marian Handwerker.
Mirage d’Amour is produced by Saga Film, Hubert Toint’s company, and co-produced by Polaris Film (France), PS Productions (Switzerland) and Umedia (Belgium). The movie has received support from the Wallonia Brussels Federation, from the Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, from Wallimage, from the RTBF, and the Federal Office for Swiss Culture.
(Translated from French)