Between July 1 and 12, the 6th edition of the Paris Cinéma international film festival took place in the MK2 Bibliothèque, Gaumont Marignan, Le Latina, Balzac and the French Cinematheque, among others. This year some fifteen feature films and as many short films were presented in competition, as well as 27 previews in the presence of their directors.
Among the guests of honor at this edition, tribute was paid to the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki with a comprehensive presentation of his work and a cinema-concert of his film Juha (1999) and a special evening was organized in honor of the Canadian director David Cronenberg during which his film La Mosca (1987) was screened in a new copy.
After Brazil, Korea and Lebanon, this year the Philippines was given the honor of a special program of 30 contemporary films, in order to celebrate the remarkable renewal of its cinematography, to discover its new talents and the emerging artistic energy of a country Latino, Insular and Catholic in the very heart of Asia.

The films in competition

Versailles (Pierre Schoeller, France, 2008) is the story of Nina, a young woman without a job or family, who must live on the street with Enzo, her five-year-old son. The permanent wandering takes them to the forests of Versailles where they come into contact with Damien, a man who lives alone in his cabin, far from civilization.
Throughout the plot line there are pairs of opposites that refer to the philosophical theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in whose writings he opposed nature to culture, understood as art, technique, law, institution and society. For Rousseau, nature meant everything that links us without mediation to our origin. Instead vice, lies and violence come from society and culture. Man is naturally kind but has been corrupted by the desire for power, possession and domination learned in the social sphere.
The Damien de Versailles is the most complete example of Rousseau's "noble savage". He lives apart from the civil order not out of necessity but by his own decision, in a natural environment beyond the law, morality or good customs. For him, every woman is acceptable, both Nina and his father's new partner. Yet he is generous and, at the same time, self-sufficient. On the contrary, Nina, although she feels excluded from society, seeks help and fights tirelessly to fit in and get her son back. Nina and Damien represent two opposing philosophies of life.
Language, as part of the culture, also plays a role in the film. Damien's neighbors generally use vulgar language, while his family communicates in a rather colloquial register. For her part, the social worker uses cultured language in her dialogues with Nina. These three registers of language are equated to the same degrees of social adaptation in the characters that use them.
Within the natural environment, another pair of opposites is also represented here: the forest and the garden. In Émile's treatise on education and in his novel La Nouvelle Héloïse, Rousseau describes the rational layout garden, French or English, as a place where nature is distorted. When little Enzo runs through the palace gardens, his disheveled appearance contrasts sharply with the neat and orderly environment of the green spaces. On the other hand, the same does not happen in the virgin forest, surrounded by the four elements, where the intervention of man is minimal. It is what Gilles Deleuze calls the "original world" which is only recognized "because of its formless character, a pure background, or rather a bottomless pool made of unformed materials (...) In it, the characters are like animals... they are human animals. " (G. Deleuze, The Movement-Image, Paidós, 1994, p.180)
No less important is the political reading. Versailles, more than a city, is here a symbol of the rise and fall of the monarchical regime. Enzo's growth process from childhood to adolescence works as a fable of the beginnings of the Republic.
When Enzo asks why he should go to school, he receives the answer: "For the Republic", something that connotes an ulterior meaning about the change of political regime promoted, among others, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His "Social Contract" is considered the founding text of the French republic. According to him, sovereignty belongs to the people and not to the monarch, and arises from a general will born of common interest.
In current times, unemployment, exclusion, social and family conflicts, everything that the film evidences, endangers the dream of a participatory democracy in which no citizen should be excluded. Through the character of Nina and her son Enzo, the director proposes a relentless struggle to recover those republican principles promoted during the revolution.
The same happens in Dernier Maquis (The last maqui) feature film directed by the Algerian Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche in 2008, where the Deleuzian "original world" is imprisoned within the workplace. A little along the lines of El Ángel exterminador (1962) by Luis Buñuel, an apparently controlled situation deteriorates slowly and irremediably.

Versailles by P. Schoeller

Lake Tahoe
by Fernando Eimbcke

The St-festin
Annelaure Daffis and Léo Marchand

Lthe award-winning films

During the award ceremony that took place on July 10 at the MK2 Bibliothèque cinema, the jury chaired by composer and actor Michel Jonasz, accompanied by actresses Nora Arnezeder and Marilou Berry, journalist and writer Fabrice Gaignault, and actors Stanislas Merhar and Aurélien Wiik, awarded the Jury Prize (Pari du Juri) to Young@Heart (2007), a feature film directed by the British director Stephen Walker, which also received the most votes from the public: the Pari du Public Prize.
Young@Heart is a choral group from Northampton, Massachusetts that has performed a full repertoire of rhythm and blues, rock and punk for 25 years. The surprise is that the average age of the choir is 80 years. The film follows this particular group and its director during the rehearsals for a show that they must present in seven weeks.
This is the first documentary for the big screen by British filmmaker and screenwriter Stephen Walker. With tenderness and humor, it offers an emotional portrait of a generation rarely shown on film, exploring the daily lives of these atypical "rockers" and questioning them about their past, their desires and their sufferings.
Driven by their love of singing, inspired by the power of music, these characters seem to transcend their age and their weakened bodies. Through this unprecedented musical experience, Young@Heart It has an undeniable charm and offers a formidable life lesson.
For its part, the Prize for the Future (Pari de l'Avenir) was awarded to the film Tribe, after obtaining the majority of the votes of a jury made up of university students.
Tribe (2007), by Filipino director Jim Libiran, takes place in the streets of Tondo, the largest slum in Manila. In that lawless environment, only the strongest survive. One night, Ebet, a ten-year-old boy, witnesses the murder of one of the members of the Sacred Brown tribe. The night is just beginning, but the tension grows.
In this first fictional feature film, journalist Jim Libiran describes a world between reality and allegory, in which members of rival gangs play their own roles. On hip-hop music background, Tribe observes from within a society where violence and death are sometimes the only form of expression for young people who lack references and a future perspective.
Often compared to La Ciudad de Dios by Fernando Meirelles, the film describes with great precision the initiation rites of the new members, their rivalries, machismo, thus showing the current tragedy of urban misery.
Among the 20 short films in the international competition, Les Couillus (2007), by French director Mirabelle Kirkland, was awarded the Audience Award and La Saint-Festin (2007) by Annelaure Daffis and Léo Marchand, won the Jury Prize.
Les Couillus (The Fucking Ones) is a black comedy that tackles the subject of marital violence with humor and intelligence. Like in a documentary, Mirabelle Kirkland's shoulder-mounted camera lingers over the faces of these frustrated men, slowly revealing the reason for their presence at the support group they attend. This is a politically incorrect short film, played by convincing actors.
The Saint Festin is an animated short for which Annelaure Daffis and Léo Marchand used animation techniques such as the rotoscope and drawing on paper, as well as sets as diverse as a school notebook, a subway ticket and some photographic shots.
The title refers to an imaginary holiday during which each ogre goes out to catch and cook a child. The hunt is open but… these ogres have lost their teeth.

Adriana Schmorak Leijnse


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