Short Side Spotting Scopes


Access to an anthology as abundant as that of the short film festival of Pantin (Seine-Saint-Denis), Côté court, whose screenings this year took place only online, is an opportunity to see a little where we are is: that is to say how the filmmakers are facing, with the conciseness that a duration of less than an hour encourages, the crisis that continues to affect their field. Crisis of overproduction, which is not specific to the cinema but weakens it greatly, and which concerns everything that deserves, directly or indirectly, the name of audiovisual. Overproduction not so much of the works themselves, but of what composes and surrounds them: images and speeches supposed to reproduce reality. It seems – but it may be an illusion, or a stage – that at the end of a long period of accumulation, all the possible images of life pre-exist today to the films which would be tempted to produce them. new ones (and they are). How they manage with this overabundance (of images made, good or bad) which is similar to a shortage (of images to be done) is a question that rests with each of them. The kitsch, which consists in remaking, by other means but in pure loss, images already widely in circulation, according to the method of “second degree” if not of sad or funny derision, remains the most widespread tactic. Too bad, after all, for who would find it cynical or insufficient. Other films, by refusing the comfort of acting as if nothing had happened, complicate the task, with the air of betting that it is worth it. Among the short and medium-length films programmed by Côté court this year, these films proceed by various other methods, of which here are, at random, some examples.

Smugglers. There are the films which proceed by reconstitution and rectification of the images in progress. It is a question of taking an image to correct them from the findings from another point of view. In Bab Sebta, Randa Maroufi reconstructs the working conditions of Moroccan smugglers and smugglers who pass, several times a day, loaded with bags of goods, the European border surrounding the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The film’s set-up, halfway between the old cinema studio and digital maps overflight like Google Maps, invites, according to the end credits, these workers themselves, not extras, to replay their gestures in its space: that of a kind of imagery, not rejected by the film, on the contrary, but reviewed and corrected by its actors themselves. In At the entrance of the night, Anton Bialas invents a fiction of love and mourning with three fragile fragments of representation, taken from three places on the dangerous path that separates Africa from Europe for those who take it in exile. In Degas and me, Arnaud des Pallières finds the famous impressionist painter with little touches of reconstruction (the body and the voice of a famous actor, gradually joining the movements of these familiar dancers, straight out of Degas’ paintings) to make her explode under the revelations from another point of view: that of the model, a young woman who writes to us from the past to tell us, not as he did, “Nothing in art should look like an accident, even movement …” but rather, and more specifically, « Mister Degas hates the Jews” The ballerina images inherited from the great history of art suddenly worsen with a layer of raw truth, where the separation between the artist and the work no longer takes place, no more than their identification, but where the two tendencies rectify each other to shout out to us a portrait finally resembling the artist. In Sapphire Crystal, high style “Glaucous period” characteristic of Virgil Vernier’s films makes us clearly hear, under the stereotypes of boredom of the docufictive golden Swiss youth, the clear slogan of the ruling class: “Champagne in your mouth and shit in the Bolognese”. It was enough to listen to them.

Bab Sebta de Randa Maroufi. Photo Barney production

Wander. Other films are made by finding and redistributing alternative images of the time, which we have to look for where they are and are made (not everywhere), where they interest us most: thus, it is in strict documentary that Middle earth by Juliette Guignard, in just under an hour, paints a portrait of Camille and her three children, who live on their farm: a still recent farm, born from Camille’s desire to cultivate the land and live of its fruit. That she is not the only one in this case, and that at times however – despite the pleasure, the work, the feeling that they make sense – she feels good alone, this is not enough for the film to allow herself to ” make it a subject (of cinema, society), if not perhaps the subject of an experience: his own and that of his family, which are not communicated to us for nothing, without us being so, forced, for something. It is the simple sharing of images and thoughts produced by experience that takes precedence here over the hunt for the “good image”.

And there are the films that are made by overprinting, mixing and proliferation of everyday images: those that we make, those that we keep or not, that we remember or forget. Bus 96 by Louis Séguin makes an ordinary bus journey in Paris, to wander and digress other paths of images, a whole filmed newspaper which at first seems random, superimposed on real time which passes by the window, and which ends up tell a story. Or how the daily images of the life of one or two people can end up becoming a film, which is not the one they had dreamed of making, but which has the incredible advantage of being confused with their life. And Rodeo by Mario Valero, without any other device than the acceleration and deceleration of the waves and the flows of his editing, in the found tradition of “Visionary cinema” of the American avant-garde (here, Franco-Catalan), dangles towards us the thousand daily pieces of an existence made of images, provided that these are transfigured feelings. Life is a rodeo that straddles all of its possible images, those already made, good or bad, like those that remain to be done, and it’s beautiful.

Luc Chessel

Short side in Pantin (93), until June 27. Rens. :


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