50 Days in the Desert: Characters, I hate you all!
by Jean-Pierre Thilges
- Fabrizio Maltese has made a documentary that he directed while working as a still photographer during the filming of Joachim Lafosse's The White Knights
How can a filmmaker shoot a film whose protagonists he hates so much? That's the question that Fabrizio Maltese asks in his documentary 50 Days in the Desert [+see also:
film profile], which he filmed while working as a still photographer during the filming of Belgian director Joachim Lafosse's The White Knights [+see also:
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile] in Morocco. The documentary, screened at the sixth Luxembourg City Film Festival, is quite unusual because Maltese shot this film within a film upon Lafosse's request, who insisted his creative process be examined from the outside.
Through a series of interviews with the filmmaker, certain technicians and some actors, the demanding work of shooting this film in the middle of the desert is dissected over the course of a few weeks, as the leading actor's overinflated ego threatened to destroy the film AND its crew. Vincent Lindon is, in essence, the film’s driving force (it is based on the infamous Zoé's Ark affair), but, unlike the other team members, he categorically refused to participate in a documentary covering the genesis of the film, in which he plays the leading role. And so the challenge is double for this photographer-cum-documentarian, who must make a movie focusing on a film about an ogre while said ogre is missing from the film in question.
If you look at Vincent Lindon in some of the stills from the film set, you will notice that he was never captured by Fabrizio Maltese's camera. Not that this impedes the other interviewees from speaking openly about the actor's oppressive presence. As for Joachim Lafosse, his doubts, concerns and open hostility towards his characters perfectly illustrate the schizophrenia of the ambitious project that is The White Knights, which, in this critic's opinion, has become a film without any sense of perspective.
(Translated from French)