“In us”, “Fils de Garches”, “The Last Testimony”, virtues of “what have they become?”

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“In Us” by Regis Sauder

They and they are ten. They will soon be 30 years old. Eleven years ago, they were the characters in the documentary We Princesses of Cleves, shot in a high school in the northern suburbs of Marseille where, in reaction to a provocation to Sarkozy’s social hatredtheir teacher made them study Madame de Lafayette’s novel. From this situation, the 2011 film opened multiple perspectives, collective and individual.

As banal and obvious as it is, the natural genius of cinema to be able to compare states of the same person a decade apart retains all its powers of suggestion, wonder, sometimes dramatization and humor.

By meeting again with ten of the students he had filmed today, and by reusing sequences from the first film, Régis Sauder activates these resources, and it is a cascade of contrasts, surprises, multiple signs, innumerable desired or suffered displacements.

The montage between the two times becomes an adventure, a skein of adventures, those of lives, each one unique. Reusing footage from the first film works like a revealer, making the new one perfectly clear to anyone who hasn’t seen the 2011 one.

Together, these lives and the ways in which they are evoked speak volumes about the state of France today. But the generality never takes precedence over everything that considers each one for his own path, and what he can or wants to say about it. The gestures, the clothes, the environments also count, implicitly.

They and they are ten. Armelle, Cadiatou, Laura, Abdou, Sarah, Albert… Ten plus one, Emmanuelle, who was her teacher at the time of the first film. She still teaches French at the same high school in the northern districts. Despite the worsening of conditions, she still maintains not only her charge, but also her discourse of hope and resistance in the face of the piling up of so-called damning and oppressive fatalities.

In dotted lines, it also makes the link between then and now, it’s the underground continuity when each of the main characters in the story gives access to what is unique in their journey.

Unique and yet representative. Hence this recurrence of attempts to work in the world of care and to approach public service, to experience its suffering at work in conditions that are constantly deteriorating.

But precisely in In us, is no longer a speech, they are experiences, told with emotion, and often with humor. And the general composition of the film, finding its dynamics in the arrangement of individual situations and contexts, allows for a lively circulation, a mobility of gaze also among the spectators.

Albert, who calls for sometimes difficult personal choices, but where he affirms himself. | Shellac Distribution

The title fosters a connection with Alice Diop’s wonderful documentary, Us, released just over a month ago. The contexts and production biases are different, but the two films have in common frustrating simplifications and slogans.

Like his colleague in the Parisian suburbs, Régis Sauder builds, in Marseilles, Lausanne, Malta, Lyon, Paris (where his characters are today) a circulation that opens what Victor Segalen called “the feeling we have of diversity”.

Not “diversity” as a set of statistical situations, but as the ability to circulate and be affected by ways of being in the world, of perceiving it, of transforming it even if it is infinitesimally. As such, In us it is a journey, a beautiful journey into the cosmos of multiple lives whose few protagonists shed light on the immensity of possibilities.

Son of Garches by Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti

Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti (left) films Sophie Pichot, another former student at the Garches hospital. | The kingdom

Garches is a commune of Hauts-de-Seine, in the western suburbs of Paris. There is the Raymond-Poincaré hospital, which for a long time was the only one in France that took in people with very serious disabilities, especially children, and is still one of the main centers for the treatment of these pathologies.

Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti is a filmmaker. He is also a former patient of this hospital, and is still in a wheelchair, with very limited mobility. His film is an exploration, based on what this institution was and is, but above all based on the testimonies of some of the patients and caregivers, of multiple ways of being human when circumstances, at birth or later, have reduced very massively a certain number of physical faculties.

They and they were treated, children, for malformations and dysfunctions, and faced both suffering and fear, the anguish of their parents, medical prognosis in the form of an unappealable sentence.

In addition to the director, the other five people who are now adults speak, reflect. Having shown himself filming from very early on, the director participates in the situation of those who film, who indicated with a card at the opening: “Aware that some do not understand me, I decided to subtitle the beginning.”

He also has speech difficulties. But the subtitles will soon disappear with no problem. It is the listening of the spectators that changes, like their gaze. And that is the great beauty of this attentive, precise, very explicit film about the immense pain, the misunderstandings but also the responses, inevitably from different places, of those who have to deal with these situations.

The bet of the gaze, the gaze of the doctors, that of the family, that of the healthy who cross their path, that of the media, particularly with the launch of the telethons, are at the center from Son of Garches.

Displaying unexpected resources, including an almost dreamlike presence, that of a virtuoso double bass player (church of david) that appear in the corridors and gardens of the hospital, or the investigation of a performer and poet with multiple disabilities (Kamil Guenatri), the film is no longer just an evocation of these exploits “for children who fight against an enemy much stronger than themselves”, as the director’s mother says.

It also becomes the wonderful adventure of a change in everyone’s gaze, an initially undeniably difficult gaze on bodies so different from the norm. And it is, yes, a kind of happiness to discover (oneself), thus, in the journey with these people that a filmmaker, and cinema (the right distance, the right length, the right setting, etc.) make it possible to meet

“The Last Testimony” by Luke Holland

In period records, a teenage member of the Hitler Youth. | dawn movies

For almost ten years starting in 2008, the director traveled around Germany in search of those who, more or less actively, had supported Hitler and participated in acts committed by the Nazis. Not high personalities, nor generals, nor ministers nor great bosses, but ordinary citizens.

Necessarily already very old, they remained after the war, working in their cities and towns, having been for some of the operating SS or concentration camp guards, for other enthusiastic members of the Hitler Youth, for scrupulous officials of the Reich , even “simply” inhabitants, in the vicinity of the crematorium ovens.

They and they recount, remember, show personal documents, produce comments on what their behavior was then and since then.

Combining vintage archives and current eyewitness accounts, the film includes striking sequences, such as the former SS member who served in Buchenwald speaking to today’s students, including admirers of Nazism.

But it draws attention above all when it shows these charming old women who loved so much the games, the dances and the camaraderie of the German Girls Association. Or this former veteran of the Totenkopf SS division, known for his particular cruelty, who, looking at the camera, never ceases to be enraptured by the manly friendship that reigned between him and his companions.

Seventy years later, still adjacent to the site of a concentration camp that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. | dawn movies

Stubbornly, politely, carefully, Luke Holland listen, look, come on. These bodies and these faces marked by age, but together these very awake memories, draw an ordinary evil that is not only the one Hannah Arendt had seen, but the way in which men, women, children, dreamed, wished, liked to participate in this company of hate and destruction. A company that today some, here too, relativize as best they can, when they do not deny it.

And it is an incredible odyssey into the depths of mental and affective mechanisms, ways of coping, of lying to oneself, of repenting or being proud, even of the worst.

Once again, places, the layout of houses and apartments, body language also tell stories, thanks to the inherent powers of cinema. Once again the camera, never hidden, questions the possibility of listening without flinching in the face of monstrous affirmations, and what it is possible for each one to do with them, also in the face of the present.

document for history, the last testimonial it is above all a vertiginous invitation to question the ways in which human beings function, singular without a doubt and having lived through a certain time, but certainly not alien to the human condition.

Jean-Michel Frodon film reviews meet in the show “Cultural Affinities” by Tewfik Hakem, Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. at France Culture.

In us

by Regis Sauder

sessions

Duration: 1h39

Release: March 23, 2022

Son of Garches

by Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti

sessions

Duration: 1h26

Release: March 23, 2022

the last testimonial

by luke holland

sessions

Duration: 1h35

Release: March 23, 2022

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