With gratitude for two anonymous contributions

by Fernando Ganzo

(leer en castellano)

I wanted to wait until tonight (when I will have seen the last films by Carax and Kiarostami), so I would give you a proper account of today´s screenings at Cannes, but I decided to go head and write this, for I want to share with you two contributions that I envy and admire.

As I was waiting in the queue for Andrew Dominik´s film this morning, I bumped into a receptionist from the Czech Republic that works in an import/export business here in Cannes. Since he was coming from such a different line of work, I wanted to know what he thought of the films he´s seeing this year in the festival. The following snippet (or what I recall from it) is the first one of those contributions.

“In the other hand, I´ve seen the last film by Audiard, and I´m quite close to hating it. I think the guy is really repulsive. He has three stories in his film; not because they are related to one another, but because he is not committed to any of them. He could have done Intouchable, but he probably thinks that´s tasteless, so he mixes Intouchables with a boxing film. Then again he probably thinks that´s too obvious, so he ends his film in a Rossellini way. Really, that´s too much, hu? Happily, there is a voice over in the end that explains, in a way, why he´s done that and, ultimately, that the film is coming to an end. I think De rouille et d´os is awfully filmed, and I don´t understand what is it that he´s looking at; all we see are the back of some heads over a blurry background. The scene with the killer whale is such a disaster! He manages to film nothing at all, which is quite an accomplishment in itself.

The second contribution is actually an email from a French friend who is a filmmaker when he can and a math teacher when he must. I´m not going to use his name, for it is a somewhat personal testimony and because he is, after all, virtually an unknown. I knew he had already seen the last film by Depardon, so when I was doing my screening schedule I asked him whether I should go and see it. His response is as follows:

“I think you should, but I don´t know. Actually, if you´ve seen many (or a few) films by Depardon, then it´s different. But I´m just going to tell you why it is touching. On the one hand, it is a portrait of Depardon today: taking pictures in Nevers. But the best thing is that it incorporates parts of his film archives; which are like a narrative of his life as a filmmaker—his memoires, if you will. Those fragments have a voice over by Claudine Nougaret, who not only did the sound for his films but it´s also his couple. The fragments are very powerful in themselves; for instance, they include a dispute between mercenaries and conscript soldiers that are being trained by the former in some African countries at war (they quarrel over the theft of the wallet of a dead mercenary). There are also fragments that show the confusion and disorientation of the Russian troops in Czechoslovakia. But the criteria under which everything is put together and organized, is to explain Depardon´s life. It’s a bit of a burden for me, because those documents (the real fragments) tend to impress me more when they are anonymous and I don´t know anything about the person who has shot them. Maybe it´s different for you, but I´ve always believed that when you shoot something that powerful, it no longer belongs to you, it becomes something foreign. I think that the fact that someone has shot that material it´s powerful enough, regardless of our presence there. Or maybe what bothered me was that in that moment the film seems to build on the filmmakers´s legend, in a way—and that´s a feeling to which I´m totally foreign. But suddenly, in the middle of the film, everything changes when we see some unknown images shot by Depardon of Claudine Nougaret (right about the time they were getting to know each other and falling in love). We see her in a close-up as he´s kind of interviewing her, and then we see her in a flat talking to some people. Then the camera is moving and she is in a car and invites Depardon to get inside as he asks her to pose for a few seconds with the door open. None of that is banal or corny, or wicked or lusty in a silly way... We sense that the feeling that holds those images together is the emotion of being in front of her; as she represents, in that moment, his idea of beauty, passion and desire. Do you remember the lead character in L’Amour l’après- midi? (In fact, in the film we see some images of Rohmer surrounded by his actresses when he was doing Le Rayon vert; and it is imperative that you see that: his joy just being surrounded by that bunch of girls). Do you remember that in L’Amour l’après- midi the main character is looking at his wife as he´s trying to remember how she was when they first met? For him, that equals to remembering his own idea of beauty at the time; for beauty works like that and reveals itself to us clearly, without the shadow of a doubt. In this case it is exactly like that. On the one hand we have Depardon as an old man, and in the other hand we have his recollection of how beauty appeared in front of him when he was young. And I wonder whether it is or not an obligation that we ourselves have as filmmakers, or as human beings: to record our own perception of beauty so we can remember it. I never was into taking pictures of my loved ones, or of the girls I´ve been in love with, because I´ve always said to myself that the best possible memories are those that one has in the memory, directly from the eye. What a fool I´ve been. I thought I was going to be young forever, and now that I´m the same age as Rohmer´s character, I´m sad. And I really envy Depardon, for he carries with him traces of those things that can´t be described when we first see them. However, when I now think of the young man that I was, I only see a stranger, for I´m no longer capable of seeing beauty the way his eyes used to.

Translated from Spanish by Hugo Obregón

In competition
FRANCE, BELGIUM. 2012. 120’
Director: Jacques Audiard.
Script: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
(from a novel by Craig Davidson).
Cinematography: Stéphane Fontaine.
Editing: Juliette Welfling.
Sound: Brigitte Taillandier.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Casting: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts,
Armand Verdure, Céline Sallette,
Corinne Masiero, Bouli Lanners, Jean-Michel Correia.

Special screening
FRANCE. 2012. 100’
Director: Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret.
Script: Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret.
Cinematography: Raymond Depardon.
Editing: Simon Jacquet.
Sound: Claudine Nougaret, Guillaume Sciama,
Yolande Decarsin.
Music: Gilbert Bécaud, Patti Smith,
Gloria Lasso, Alain Bashung,
Amadeus Chamber Orschesta, Alexandre Desplat.
Casting: Raymond Depardon.
Voice over: Claudine Nougaret.