A multi-faceted world state for Cinéma du Réel
by Fabien Lemercier
- The crème de la crème of the world’s documentaries are on show at the 37th edition of the Paris-based festival, which will unspool from 19-29 March
Just like Austerlitz by Stan Neumann, which will open the 37th edition of the wildly popular Cinéma du Réel festival tomorrow in Paris, the world of documentary film is undergoing a process of hybridisation. Revolving around the life of amateur photographer Jacques Austerlitz, who was a collector of all sorts of images and an art historian obsessed with the monumental architecture of the 19th century, this feature (co-produced by Les Films d'Ici and Arte France) is a genre-straddling work that stars actors Denis Lavant and Roxane Duran.
According to Maria Bonsanti, the artistic director of Cinéma du Réel, today’s documentary production is marked by “multi-faceted films that are always different, sometimes ‘impure’, which refuse to be restricted by being pigeon-holed into defined categories, described in just one word or branded with just one adjective. They are films in which reality is rewritten, reimagined and retold through the lens of other forms of expression.”
The programme for the gathering (which will take place in the Centre Georges Pompidou until 29 March) includes an international competition comprising 11 feature films that will be judged by a jury chaired by French filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli; she will be backed up by her colleague Verena Paravel, among other jury members.
The titles vying for the top prize will reflect a kind of world state, with the portrait of a man forever scarred by his first military assignment to the Spanish Sahara (Africa 815 by Pilar Monsell); a return visit to the Mauthausen concentration camp with a survivor of the Sonderkommandos (the Franco-Italian co-production Dal ritorno by Giovanni Cioni); an insight into a disorientated Bulgaria, caught between its Soviet heritage and its entry into the EU (Et le bal continue by Gueorgui Balabanov); day-to-day life in a Siberian hamlet (Les forêts sombres by French director Stéphane Breton); a base in California where soldiers just back from Iraq or Afghanistan are stationed (the Franco-Belgian co-production Entre deux fronts by Lydie Wisshaupt-Claudel); and even a countrywoman and her family who have been displaced by the violence on the outskirts of Bogota (the Belgian-Colombian feature Noche herida by Nicolás Rincón Gille). Also of note are two titles screened at the Berlin Film Festival: A German Youth [+see also:
film profile] by Jean-Gabriel Périot (co-produced by France, Switzerland and Germany), which retraces the path trodden by the Red Army Faction, and the Portuguese film Fish Tail [+see also:
film profile] by Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel, about a young fisherman from the Azores in a port threatened by the increasing industrialisation of his profession.
Three other competitive sections are also on the menu at Cinéma du Réel: the first is for French films (featuring ten titles), the second is dedicated to nine international feature debuts (including Hier sprach der Preis by Germany’s Sabrina Jäger, Winter Buoy by Swedish director Frida Kempff, Voglio dormire con te by Italian filmmaker Matteo Colombo and Une partie de nous s'est endormie by France’s Marie Moreau), and the third comprises ten short films. The line-up is rounded off by a carte blanche granted to British producer Keith Griffiths, a Focus on the Greek Film Archive and a programme entitled “Vampires in Cinema”.
Interestingly, all throughout the festival and up until 30 April, a wide selection of the films presented in competition will be available via VoD on UniversCiné.
(Translated from French)