By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Before they reached the Negro they stopped, because he began to sing. They could see him, naked and mud-caked, sitting on a log, singing. They squatted silently a short distance away, until he finished. He was chanting something in his own language, his face lifted to the rising sun. His voice was clear, full, with a quality wild and sad.

William Faulkner – Red Leaves

Exorcism rituals / ever present specters

Should we consider the post-colonization situation filmed through the trajectory of Klotz and Perceval’s making of Nous Disons… as an analogy of the ever-present wound that has been carved across the land with the fury of a scolding knife? Slavery, this situation, is a specter that haunts history and taints the antipodes of existence: geographically, spiritually, politically. The black man that sleeps abandoned in the gothic cathedrals of Barcelona, the theater group in Brazzaville, the carnival dancer in Sao Paolo; they all attempt to exorcise the damage through different elements of performance: healing exercise, dance-as-shamanic-ritual, celebration, mise-en-scène, song and chants. Scattered across the globe -the aftermath of a systemic dehumanization process that lasted millennia- are women and men currently stitching the wound with bravery, attempting to deliver this ever-present specter to its final resting space. And though the effort is far from being over, these acts of revolt are constantly being reinstated and performed as a dialectical path that seeks to resolve itself cyclically.

In Nous Disons Révolution, the outstanding attempt by Klotz and Perceval lies in transferring this cyclical effort to the exercise of the filmmaking process itself: to film as an act of rebellion, the image as a revolution. This fits perfectly in this permanent construction of the hybrid documentary, of film essay, or film as a philosophical statement. Nous Disons… is both a “Hegelian” piece of art and philosophy (and in this aspect, tangentially touches the best aspects of Godard or Straub-Hulliet), and boils with the spirit of revolution not only because on what is fixated on the camera lens (what is being documented or recreated), but also because the image itself is transformed in a tool of resistance. How else could we explain the route that finely knits a fabric of different film textures that references itself and lies as a tapestry where a man can dance upon? The meta-language of film, the mere image, captures a dancer that seems to insert his shadow to sabotage what is being projected, and this act regenerates the image as a different possibility, as a canvas where the act of shamanic ritual can be performed.

And if the image opens itself up to new path of regenerations, the careful exercise of montage composes an essay like a cut-up technique where all the words speak of healing, and revolt. In this sense, Klotz and Perceval develop a Burroughs-esque arsenal of images that are stitched together as tending to the open wound that the film openly declares. It’s the act of editing as an act of care, of reinstatement, of reparation. To construct the film in the editing room as an analogy of tending to the patient. And the patient is the entire world. 


Two elements physically present in the film, the wound and the mask, can be seen as Jungian representations (or open metaphors), and work equally as both. Mamadou, the character that lurks among this open limbo that is the Barcelonian night streets, is seeing wearing an open gash in his face, and he addresses it in the film openly. This is not a mere artifact or a makeup contraption: Mamadou wears the gash -the wound of exile- because it’s the extent of a displaced hurt inside his soul. And in this matter, Mamadou, the Brazzaville actors, the Bela Vista dancers are all displacing their personal hurts, via reconstruction, representation, or celebration. Thus, these acts of self-care are performed to appease the loud nightmare that is colonization. Place Saint Flip Neri is a refuge for displaced people and seems habited by the phantoms of the long colonial night. Alicia’s hand touches the wall full of holes that look like they were visions from Goya’s Disasters of War, tells me Nicolas in an email correspondence. Displacement as a migrant condition, the diaspora of precarity. Displacement of the wound, as a territorial landmark that stretches across continents, displacement of the injury, from the inheritance of colonization to the act of collective healing. Displacement of the mask, from a ritual belonging to a symbol of revolution that haunts the white man. Displacement of the film apparatus, from a visual recording machine to a possibility of subversion.

Texts and voices are appropriated in Nous Disons… to transpose their original meaning into the complex construction that is the film’s sound work: William Faulkner, Paul Preciado, Mahmoud Darwich, Anna Seghers, Heiner Müller, Franz Fanon… The new structures that result from their voices -slowed down, pitched, recited, cut-upped- are fantastic pieces of synthesis that inhabit the whole film as pieces that glue this hybrid documentary together. It’s a sort of archeology, going from documentary to science fiction, mentions Nicolas and his logic makes perfect sense: to discover one must generate the conditions of the discovery, and in this film, the conditions of the discovery (the documentary) can only emerge from the conditions of fiction; thus, the emergence of the hybridity all too well known in the works of Klotz and Perceval.

Whatever ends up being displaced in the end, Nous Disons Révolution is testimony of a constant effort of subversion and revolt, of the exploration of the true possibilities of secession cinema, a testimony that Nicolas Klotz and Elizabeth Perceval deliver once again, as a possibility of restoring the world to a better place, situation, or condition. Film as a chance of healing.