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

“In Us” by Regis Sauder

They and they are ten. They will soon be 30 years old. Eleven years ago, the characters in the documentary We, Princesses of Cleves, were filmed at a high school in Marseille’s northern districts, where their teacher, in response to a provocation of social hatred by Sarkozy, made them study the novel about Madame. of Lafayette. From this situation, the film from 2011 opened up more perspectives, collective and individual.

As banal and obvious as it is, the cinema’s natural genius preserves being able to compare the same person’s states with a decade apart all his powers for suggestion, amazement, sometimes dramatization and humor.

By reuniting with ten of the students he had filmed at the time today, and by reusing sequences from the first film, Régis Sauder activates these resources, and it’s a cascade of contrasts, surprises, multiple characters, countless shifts wanted or little .

The editing between the two epochs becomes an adventure, a skein of adventure, each individual’s unique. The reuse of images from the first film acts as a revealing – and makes the new completely clear to anyone who has not seen it from 2011.

Together, these lives and the way in which they are evoked tell much about the state of France today. But the general public never takes precedence over everything that takes into account each one for his or her own journey and what he or she can or will say about it. Gestures, clothes, environments also tell implicitly.

They and they are ten. Armelle, Cadiatou, Laura, Abdou, Sarah, Albert… Ten plus one, Emmanuelle, who was their teacher at the time of the first film. She still teaches French at the same high school in the northern districts. Despite the deteriorating conditions, she still retains not only her post but also her speech of hope and resistance to the accumulation of so-called judgmental and oppressive deaths.

In dotted lines, it also forms the connection between then and now, that is, the underground continuity when each of the protagonists of the story gives access to the unique on their journey.

Unique and yet representative. Thus, this repetition of attempts to work in the world of care and to turn to the public service, to experience the suffering of it at work under conditions that are constantly deteriorating.

But just in IN USA, it is no longer a speech, it is experiences, told with emotion and often humor. And the general composition of the film, which finds its dynamism in the arrangement of individual situations and contexts, allows a lively circulation, a mobility of the gaze also among the spectators.

Albert, who claims sometimes difficult personal choices, but where he asserted himself. | Shellac distribution

The title encourages a connection with Alice Diop’s formidable documentary, We, released just over a month ago. The contexts and biases in the production are different, but the two films have in common that they oppose simplifications and slogans.

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

Not “diversity” as a collection of statistical situations, but as the ability to circulate and be influenced by ways of being in the world, of perceiving it, of transforming oneself in an infinitely small way. As such, IN USA is a journey, a beautiful journey into the cosmos of many lives, whose few protagonists shed light on the infinity of possibilities.

Son of Garches by Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti

Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti (left) films Sophie Pichot, another alumnus of Garches Hospital. | Kingdom

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

Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti is a filmmaker. He is also a former patient at this hospital and he 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 testimony of some of the patients and relatives, about several ways to be human, when the circumstances, at birth or subsequently, have very massively reduced a certain number of physical faculties.

They and they were treated, children, for malformations and dysfunctions and met both suffering and fear, their parents’ concerns, medical prognoses in the form of condemnation without appeal.

In addition to the instructor speaking, the five others who are now adults reflect. After showing himself filming very early, the director participates in the situation for them, the films he, who with a card indicated at the opening: “Knowing that some do not understand me, I decided to write the beginning.”

He also has speech problems. But the subtitles soon disappear without a hitch. It is the audience’s listening that changes, as does their gaze. And that’s the great beauty of this attentive, precise, very explicit film about the immense pain, the misunderstandings, but also the answers, inevitably from different places, from those who have to deal with these situations.

The effort in the gaze, the gaze of the doctors, the family, the able-bodied who cross their path, the gaze of the media, especially with the creation and operation of the telethones, are the core of Son of Garches.

By using unexpected resources, including an almost dreamlike presence, a virtuoso double bassist (David Chiesa) appearing in the hospital corridors and gardens, or researching a performer and poet with multiple disabilities (Kamil Guenatri), the film is no longer just the development of these holdings “of children fighting against an enemy much stronger than themselves”, as the director’s mother says.

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

“The Last Testimony” by Luke Holland

In periodical records, a teenage member of the Hitler Youth. | Alba film

For almost ten years from 2008, the director traveled Germany in search of those who had more or less actively supported Hitler and participated in actions committed by the Nazis. Not tall personalities, not generals, ministers or big bosses, but ordinary citizens.

Necessarily now very old, they remained after the war, working in their towns and villages, having been for some of the SS in operation or guards in concentration camps, for other enthusiastic members of the Hitler Youth, of scrupulous officials from the Kingdom, even “simply” inhabitants , near crematorium ovens.

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

The film, which combines period archives and current testimonies, contains shocking sequences, such as that of the former SS man who served in Buchenwald, where he spoke to contemporary students, including admirers of Nazism.

But it is especially striking when it shows these charming old ladies who loved the games, the dances and the camaraderie with the Bund Deutscher Mädel. Or this former member of the SS “Totenkopf” division, known for his peculiar cruelty, who, with his eyes fixed on the camera, never ceases to fable about the virile friendship that prevailed between him and his comrades.

Seventy years later, still next to the site of a concentration camp that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. | Alba film

Stubbornly, politely, attentively, Luke Holland listens, watches, lets come. These bodies and these faces marked by age, but on the whole these very awake memories, draw a common evil, which is not only what Hannah Arendt had seen, but the way in which men, women, children, dreamed, wanted, loved to participate in this hatred and destruction business. A company like today some, here too, relativize as best they can when they do not deny it.

And it’s an incredible odyssey to the depths of mental and affective mechanisms, ways of coping, lying to oneself, regretting or being proud, including the worst.

Once again, the places, the decor of the houses and the apartments, the body language also tell stories, thanks to the inherent powers of the cinema. The camera, never hidden, once again questions the possibility of listening without shuddering to monstrous affirmations, and what it is possible for everyone to do with them – even in relation to the present.

document for history, The Last Testimony is above all a dizzying invitation to question the ways in which human beings function, no doubt singularly and after living through a certain period, but certainly not outside the human condition.

Jean-Michel Frodon’s film reviews can be found in the show “Cultural Affinities” by Tewfik Hakem, Saturdays from 6.00 to 07.00 on French culture.


by Regis Sauder


Duration: 1h39

Published: March 23, 2022

Son of Garches

by Rémi Gendarme-Cerquetti


Duration: 1h26

Published: March 23, 2022

The Last Testimony

by Luke Holland


Duration: 1h35

Published: March 23, 2022

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