By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
The apparatus of resistance and its relentless mechanism in an era of crisis has already been explored in Sylvain George’s Vers Madrid: The Burning Bright, a slow burner of political uprise and class struggle on the Madrid revolts of 2011 and 2012. And while the immediate consequences of political civil organization might not be instantly apparent, the sense of general malaise in a population pushed to the verge of self suffocation was absolutely palpable, and the film turned a hopeful eye in the light of civilian organization capabilities. Paris est une fête – Un film en 18 vagues, picks up where Vers Madrid left, 4 years later amidst a climate of global fear and emigration, where immigrants escaping the horrors of war are seeing as undesired bacteria in the world’s already collapsed circulatory system.
Civil resistance and the way of living of the disenfranchised both ignite the black and white initiative of George’s filmmaking, in a Paris which feels like a giant echo chamber of fear and social disgust. Desperate voices claim for fraternity, freedom and equality, France’s political manifesto since times of the revolution, voices that struggle to be heard in an atmosphere of repressive violence. Sylvain George is always precise when utilizing his camera as a weapon of social manifestation, a rough but necessary instrument of protest whose images in contrasted b/w achieve immediate urgency. But also, the filmmaker takes a step forward in his narration, navigating vigorously in the dark among a garden of dead daisies only to find a naked body in the outdoors. These surreal moments add an element of suspense and unique expressive manifestation, a way of immersing the viewer in this sensation of complete abandonment of the other through visual poetry.
Paris est une fête – Un film en 18 vagues is an achievement on itself, since it shows that George’s experimental documentary expressive tools are far from being exhausted. The chose of video photography, which dwells on the physical unique details of its characters, and which had successfully worked in Qu’ils Reposent En Révolte (Des Figures De Guerre) is revisited again, and shows the body as a canvas of suffering, struggle and search of identity (with the element of human hands having a more than welcome return). In a time where the politics of fear and global policing intend to grab us against a corner, a glimmer of hope is found in this document of mankind, a powerful reminder that our struggle is far from being over.
Cinéma du Réel: International Competition
Directed by: Sylvain George