Philibert returns to his roots
by Anne Feuillère
24/05/2007 - Nicolas Philibert new documentary Back to Normandie [trailer] screened out of competition to a packed theatre yesterday at the 60th Cannes Film Festival. After the phenomenal success of his previous film To Be and to Have, sold the world over, the director’s new documentary was much awaited.
Present at the screening, the director thanked all the members of his team before adding: “To Be and to Have had a completely unexpected and exceptional destiny. I wasn’t prepared for it. I spent two years travelling the world to accompany the film. It was a publicity whirlwind. It was also a legal whirlwind,” the director explained, referring to the trials he has had to face when some people filmed in his documentary wanted to have their share of the film’s profits. He concluded: “Back to Normandie is also a return to myself, my roots and what got me involved in cinema. Making this film was a way to resist this whirlwind.”
Back to Normandie is a very personal film, in which the director sometimes appears himself on screen and in which his voice-off as narrator is very present. The documentary, which borders on confession and investigation, harks back to one of Philibert’s first experiences in cinema when he worked as assistant to René Allio on a 1975 film Allio directed in Normandy, adapted from Michel Foucault’s book I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother…, a case study of parricide that took place at the end of the 19th century in a rural town in the north of France.
Philibert mixes cinema verite, archive images, interviews with actors from Allio’s film and reconstructed scenes and readings in an examination on the heterogeneous subject matter that takes place on several levels, most importantly in terms of cinema: how can this art form profoundly change life?
Produced by Serge Lalou for Les Films d'Ici and Gilles Sandoz for Maïa Films, Back to Normandie was co-produced by Arte and Canal+. It was backed by the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), as well as the Basse Normandie region.
Back to Normandie is being sold internationally by Films Distribution and will be released in France by Les Films du Losange . The title has already been sold to a dozen territories, including Italy and Japan.
(Translated from French)