Looking Ahead From The Distance

The 34th edition of Paris Film Festival Cinéma du Réel has come to an end.  With the screening of almost 200 documentary movies, several master classes with internationally renowned filmmakers, and public debates with the film directors of the movies in competition, this annual cultural event has opened once more a wide window over a selection of original looks at the real world.

By avoiding films dealing with ongoing issues, such as the Arab revolts, and proposing a selection of movies that leaves much space for the viewer to grasp the film’s substance in his or her own way, this Festival is an invitation to enter another time zone, a sphere of contemplation which allows new forms of meaning to aggregate and sheds new light on our contemporary world.  

The 2012 Festival Palmares confirms this approach. The Cinéma du Réel Grand Prix was attributed to a nonconforming filmic object, “Autrement, La Molussie” (“Differently, Molussia”), an imaginary representation in nine sequences of Günther Anders’ 1930's antifascist novel, Die molussische Katakombe. Through a composition of contemporary images recorded on an out-of-date film that gives them an archival appearance, film director Nicolas Rey constantly challenges our understanding of time, leaving us in a no-time zone to reflect simultaneously on the metaphysics of fascism and its contemporary bearing.

Among other awards, the jury singled out two films for two prizes each: Clémence Ancelin’s film “Habiter/Construire” (Living/Building), a delicate film about timeless human ways of life co-existing with, before dissolving into, modern forms of habitat and human activities in Tchad’s deserts; and Ali Hazara’s short movie “Dusty Nights”, a beautiful metaphor for Afghanistan’s tragedy expressed through the story of Kabul’s night-time road-sweepers carrying out their Sisyphean work in a parallel, murky world.  Both films illustrate, each in its own way, the dialectic between creative distance and political urgency - which is surely the most distinctive and inspiring feature of the Film Festival Cinéma du Réel.

Frederique Guerin, Special Correspondent, The Global Journal.


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