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États généraux du film documentaire

Lussas (France) - 22 August 2010 - 28 August 2010

http://www.lussasdoc.org

2014 2013 2012 2011 2009 2008 2006 2003 2002 2001 2000



 

This return to Russia, the country that inaugurated the " Doc Route" ten years ago, is a way of highlighting work done in documentary writing workshops in Siberia. It gives us the opportunity to take stock of a production situation which is difficult and to screen some results of trajectories and initiatives which attempt to resist. Russian documentary has been particularly weakened by the disappearance these last years of the State documentary studios, by the total disinterest shown by television companies for the genre, by the polarisation of school and production facilities in major regional capitals and by the arbitrary way state funding is allocated and limited to subjects preselected by theme. In this difficult situation, the best known film-makers, Russian or those trained in the Russian school, Dvortseyvoy, Kossakovski, Loznitsa, V. Solomin, not to forget Sokourov, are continuing highly personal careers – some turning resolutely to fiction – all supported by festival screenings of their films, which open up possibilities for precious international co-production. But what prospects are there for the younger generation? To provide answers, this programme provides both a tight and protean selection which highlights numerous first films made within highly different training systems. VGIK, the historic school which has trained all the great Russian and Soviet film-makers and emphasises technical mastery to the point where it can lead to a certain academic conventionality, remains nonetheless a guarantee of high quality. For example, The New Century and Blue Sky. Black Bread are both shot on film and continue the heritage of Russian documentary where the "mise en scène", the unsynchronised soundtrack, alternating montage within a unity of place and time, create a narrative which looks toward fiction. And even if these characteristics indicate school films, the two directors display undoubted talent. The first has a soft ironic touch suggested by the title, the second uses a visual lyricism reminiscent of Soviet film, and both deal in a fine way with the raw material of cinema, image, light, very little spoken dialogue. In another style, coming from the St Petersburg University of Film and Television, A Long Way Home observes at a cruel, burlesque-like distance, the micro theatrics taking place along the roadside of a small town permeated with boredom and abandon. These films give a vision of a world – reality, cinema – where time has stopped. This is also the feeling created by Evgueni Solomin's new film, Countryside 35x45, emphasised by the choice of chemical black and white film, on the verge of disappearing, but which is very much in harmony with the ID photos the hero-photographer offers from village to village, profiting from the renewal of the old Soviet passports. In other words, the disappearance of a world. Eight years has gone by since the previous film of the author from Novossibirsk, a sign of the difficulty to produce such projects today. In the meantime, the State studio of Siberia's biggest city (Shiller, Eisner, Solomin the elder) has shut down. Katorg (a term referring initially to a hard labour sentence, then to a long prison term), like Countryside, is a film whose story can be summed up in a few lines but which contains an entire life, a life read on a face, using few words, waiting for a change which doesn't come, revealed in the final scene, a shot to which the whole film tends.
In Somebody, But Not You, a series of men and women are paraded across the screen who see themselves, perhaps for the first time, in Soviet propaganda films. The camera scrutinises their faces as they shine or express dismay at the sight of that other they do not recognise, from another era, a finished youth. Their faces of today appear as if in a distorting mirror opposite the perceived images, their silence oppose the verbose commentary of the images which made them heroes of their time. This is by the way the term frequently used to designate the main character of a documentary film, the choice of a hero (geroy) turns out to be a primary rule: no film without a principal character. This tendency can also be found in an approach to “direct cinema” defended by the group Kinoteatr.Doc whose director, Mikhail Sinev, produces documentaries and fiction films and organises a festival at Moscow. His productions offer a more urban, less vernacular vision of Russia. Freedom follows a class of young boys during their first military training, resembling a holiday camp, in their confrontations with authority and meetings with the other sex. Aritmiya has as a hero a young energetic doctor who organises evening dances to pay for his studies. Sveta Strelnikova reveals the contradictions of a young city dweller whose professional conscience is put under strain by his desire for an easier life. Two other short films testify to realities which are little represented, even denied. Reporting from the "other side" is truly one of the stakes of Inside a low budget film, showing signs of real commitment: we see the promiscuity of a small medical team who try to care and provide relief for the excluded, whose broken bodies find there some minimal recognition and succour. The Jump by Taisyia Rechetnikova is representative of another trend at VGIK, offering with minimal formal elaboration a recital of solitude and disarray.
If the hero is the individual who carries the story, who the film accompanies, behind whom we sometimes camp at the risk of engaging in a form of exhibitionism, there are two films at the diametrical opposite of this possible deviation, two films of rare strength and conviction who put forward a completely different viewpoint and discourse. Artur Aristakisian finished Palms in 1994 in the framework of VGIK after several years of work. An ode to beggars, to the disinherited, the deprived, the excluded in the heart of a city of which their bodies are the heartbeats. This long poem filmed in the streets of Chisinau, Moldavia, this letter read to a son not yet born is a discourse to the rest of humanity, a mystical and visionary allegory, like a “soul of resistance” for the use of the world. Later and elsewhere, in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Oleg Morozov filmed over almost ten years other marginal figures, with a quietly shared lack of prudery, but also the fever of suspended life: Until the Next Resurrection. The cineast accompanies errant souls following broken horizons and who do not outlive the film. Almost all die, while the images of their abandoned bodies continue to haunt us. Showing a genuine mistrust of commentary and opposing the not always respectful distance of usual observation, these two films embody the possibility of saying "I", an "I" which is neither the negation of a "we" neither a judgement on another, simply the statement of the particularity of a way of looking or a word, a demand for the film-maker's liberty. Liberty that the director Marina Razbezhkina tries to maintain via her atypical training in documentary in Moscow and outside. Her film The Holidays unrolls in long sequences that make apparent the isolation and harshness of village life under attentive eyes who do not fear to express a certain empathy. Much like Territoire de l'amour which is the first film released from the documentary film writing workshops initiated by the director Hélène Châtelain in Krasnojarsk. Here we are led along the roads of Siberia with "Les autres", a group from the region's psychiatric centre who are touring a musical show. This is the photographer Alexandr Kuznetsov's first film and he wanted to lend voice and body to his images. He lovingly shows how the impetus to live relies as much on the collective group as on the will of each individual. The film rolls out in waves, at each of the group's outings, wherever some sharing is possible. And here again, as in The Superstar's Only Role, a film made in the Razbezhkina workshops, only the poetic words of the heroine or the protest song of a hero are able to grip the audience and to rouse it to passion.
Christophe Postic, www.lussasdoc.com

Russian or Soviet films

Route du Doc : Russie


Territory of love, 2010

(Территориялюбви)


Aleksandr KUZNETSOV (5)
(Александр КУЗНЕЦОВ (5))


The Superstar's Only Role, 2010

(Единственная роль суперзвезды)


Anton SERYOGIN
(Антон СЕРЕГИН)


Arhythmia, 2009

(Аритмия)


Svetlana STRELNIKOVA
(Светлана СТРЕЛЬНИКОВА)


Blue Sky. Black Bread, 2009

(Синее небо. Черный хлеб)


Ilya TOMASHEVICH
(Илья ТОМАШЕВИЧ)


Countryside 35 x 45, 2009

(Глубинка 35 x 45)


Yevgeni SOLOMIN
(Евгений СОЛОМИН)


New Century, 2009

(Новый век)


Mila RAZGON
(Мила РАЗГОН)


Inside, 2008

(Внутри)


Irina VOLKOVA (2)
(Ирина ВОЛКОВА (2))


Off Road Movie, 2008

(Долгая дорога домой)


Aleksandr GORELIK
(Александр ГОРЕЛИК )


Somebody, But Not You, 2008

(Кто-то, но не ты)


Konstantin SHAVOVSKY
(Константин ШАВЛОВСКИЙ)


Until the next resurrection, 2008

(Следующее Воскресение)


Oleg MOROZOV (2)
(Олег МОРОЗОВ (2))


Freedom, 2007

(Охота за ворота)


Natalya MESHCHANINOVA
(Наталия МЕЩАНИНОВА)


The Jump, 2007

(Прыжок)


Taisya RESHETNIKOVA
(Таисия РЕШЕТНИКОВА)


Holidays, 2005

(Каникулы)


Marina RAZBEZHKINA
(Марина РАЗБЕЖКИНА)


Katorga, 2001

(Каторга)


Yevgeni SOLOMIN
(Евгений СОЛОМИН)


Palms, 1993

(Ладони)


Artur ARISTAKISIAN
(Артур АРИСТАКИСЯН)



Cinema on the square


Wild Horses of Fire, 1964

(Тени забытых предков)


Sergey PARADZHANOV
(Сергей ПАРАДЖАНОВ)