Twenty-four films like so many splinters driven deep into our flesh after this selection work for the 2019 “Viewing Experiences” programme. This observation of documentary film production does not leave the viewer unscathed. It demands attention, open-mindedness, distance, good will, rigour and the capacity to let go… We have emerged enriched by the experience. With boosted morale also, for we have drunk from the formidable well of energy dispensed by the filmmakers.
These twenty-four precious fragments are the fruit of attempts and risk-taking, and confront themselves to the art of cinema and to the world in a single movement. We hope that these films will leave their mark on the memory of the spectators as much as they did on ours.
If these films touched us to the heart, it is because something profoundly human was at stake: an encounter, some encounters. Also at stake was the quality of each cinematic approach, its sophistication. We were impressed by the aptitude displayed by some filmmakers to produce thought through the image and the recording of sound, sometimes in difficult situations and whatever the location: a distant country, a neighbourhood crossroads, a family home. We were also struck by numerous films that handle with great inspiration the art of the ellipse. By the power of writing, editing, camerawork: generating meaning and emotion by withdrawing rather than adding. Suspending rather than asserting. Certain creators make their films work in the interstices, the voids, producing effects of propulsion or short circuits: contrapuntal effects, polyphony…
The large number of self-financed films registered this year reveals a vast desire to express oneself with the tools of cinema. Although a few singular objects were solitary productions, the necessity of team work, as limited as it might be, remains vital. We can see to what extent the training programmes, financing programmes, and those accompanying film direction are indispensable for cinematic creation. Films are made from discussions, collaborations and external viewpoints. We will have the opportunity to discuss the point during this edition: some of the films benefited from the intervention of mentors of cinematography or editing, and the producers took serious risks for these works to come to completion. The production and distribution circuit (we cannot even call it an industry) is modest and its economy is extremely fragile. It is important then, once again, to remember that it is a territory to be defended, in all its diversity.
It is a kind of privilege for us all to come together in Lussas during this week. It is a great opportunity to have access to these singular, modest and crazily ambitious objects which almost no-one can see outside of festivals. It is true that this state of things is saddening; we are so often told that to reach a wide audience, you have to simplify. This is no doubt why we have paid particular attention to works that experiment new ways of making films, as well as to films that are “deceptively simple” – films that are easy to get into and that slowly develop nuances of complexity and produce interrogations that are that much more dizzying because their approach has taken us by surprise.
Viewing a film in a festival is a decisive experience. Many of us have discovered documentary cinema by following the contours of a programme. For many of us, this has influenced the course of our lives. This experience is collective, especially in Lussas. Thanks to the discussions that follow the projections, and beyond, these twenty-four fragments will provide the opportunity to collectively prolong the work of the films.
Stéphane Bonnefoi, Adrien Faucheux
Debates led by Stéphane Bonnefoi and Adrien Faucheux.
In the presence of the directors and/or producers.