Dispatches from Clermont-Ferrand: French Program 1

· sunrise

The first program of the French selections implied a strong programming subtext of dark thematic trauma. The initial short Nuisible(s) was light in tone through its fantastic miniature world, where empty pizza boxes provide home to a tiny ant-like society and the danger of potential chaos comes when a giant teenager’s bedroom is on the verge of a cleaning overhaul, pizza and ants included.

Self taught Sri Lankan filmmaker Pradeepan Raveendran’s Shadows of Silence initiated the program’s tone with an exploration of the isolation and depression held within by a suicidal father of three through some great shifts in time/space. We observe visions of his dead body along the sidewalk of snow in a manner that electronically calls out like voices from beyond. While initially very slow in tone and pace, the shock of seeing death soon turns banal, emphasizing the dread that death is also perhaps a trap of the quotidian to be escaped.

The initial crowd murmur that occurred upon the possible attendance of New- Wave-ressurection-associated Louis Garrell was not fulfilled with his presence as a filmmaker in this screening, but his film Petit Tailluer collapsed the gap of expectations and excitement. And while the narrative could be clearer in terms of point of view and setup of protagonist motivation, Garrell’s most successful contribution is providing Lea Seydoux the opportunity to shine beyond the roles in which she is normally relegated (ie, love interest to be conquered in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood). And while she was not the main protagonist (although it might have been a stronger choice) her character and performance choices were an exciting emergence to observe.

The program concluded with three more narrative works that solidified a growing ascension in tone, including a great juxtaposition of playful animation and the psychological consequences in an personal docu-animation about statutory rape in Francoise, and an interesting allegory of the loss of Muslim conviction in Siggil by Remi Mazet, which was confident in style and technique but unfortunately lost audiences in terms of depicting taboos about dogs as bringers of darkness.