Les États généraux du film documentaire 2006 Scam : Radio night

Scam : Radio night

“You need to be a little naive to be interested in fiction”, remarked François Truffaut on the subject of Roberto Rossellini. Are documentary filmmakers then crafty strategists driven by intelligent and undeclared aims?

And is the object of a documentary not always the subject of rewriting, or rather the object of an inevitable phase of writing, staging and directing what we, by convenience, call the Real?

There is nothing better than to question the pioneers to glean some elements of an answer, whether it be Georges Rouquier who dramatises the four seasons of peasant life of the family represented in Farrebique, or Henri Storck imposing the choice of a point of view for Borinage, or again Robert Flaherty writing through Nanook of the North or Man of Aran his own myth. “He was a genius salesman in spite of the fact that, during production, he was absolutely uncontrollable” wrote Michael Powell on the latter.

There is then always a phase of writing and we know to what extent sound is an absolutely decisive element.

Are we then less concerned with seeing than with hearing and telling?

The choice of audio documentaries proposed to the festival audience is made up like a short tale recounting the voices and methods of writing, in their historical as well as daily questioning, in their noises as well as in their words, in their own specificity.

“When I am asked : ‘why do you do cinema?’, I answer: ‘to hear’. People believe that cinema is the image, but cinema is sound.” That is the way Marguerite Duras expressed herself. She was a paradoxical tale teller who liked to express herself through “cuts” whether it be in theatre, literature, radio or cinema.

Similar to the screen which only reproduces visual space in two dimensions and at twenty-four images per second, radio space does not indicate direction, but only distance; and as a result putting sounds into perspective constitutes one of the most effective devices of radio creation. But if the difference between the near and the far can have such effect on radio, is it not essentially because of the absence of vision? Putting sight into the background invites us to question the spatial properties of sound.

Finally a few famous voices will tell us how far diction, without any other effect, can carry us into the vertiginous whirlpool of the written word.

Martine Kaufmann
July 2006


Serge Daney adopted a style of writing that was both fragmentary and fragmented, a temporal mode of periodical writing that culminated with the 1992 foundation of the review Trafic. And if his articles have been published in chronological collections such as Le Salaire du Zappeur (Wages of a Zapper), Ramsey, 1988 or De la Maison Cinéma et le Monde (Of the House of Cinema and the World), P.O.L., 2001, an anthology of his writings for Cahiers du Cinéma from 1962 to 1981, there has been no such publication of his radio talks.

Microfilms was the name of the programme which Daney, self dubbed son of the cinema, broadcast over France Culture starting in the autumn of 1985 and running weekly until July 1990.

Its table of contents: discuss with a filmmaker, technician, actor or fellow critic on a film, theme, season or festival.

The radio medium opened up to him another field of writing, the confrontation of his discourse with the passion and discourse of others, of those who contributed to making the films he would see and comment on in his very special words.

And we surprisingly discover a facet of Daney we didn’t suspect, the tennis amateur, where the ball bounces on both sides of the microphone, where the critic forces his adversary to the back of the court before the latter can take his revenge in words full of his or her passion for their object.

This boxed collection is a selection of ten sets, the ideal game, with his most receptive, beloved and hard nosed partners. It allows us to relive all the crafts of cinema through a collective production, a personal creation, staged by a voice which found in cinema its very reason to live.

Martine Kaufmann
July 2006

Guests : Une nuit Scam/Ina, préparée par la commission du Répertoire sonore de la Scam, en partenariat avec Radio France.