Les États généraux du film documentaire 2008 Editorial


This is the twentieth edition of the États généraux du film documentaire. In 1988, an organisation was born, La Bande à Lumière. French directors and producers united to fight for the recognition of documentary within the production support mechanisms established by the CNC. The stakes were financial, weighing on the means to make films especially after television commissioning opened up to independent producers, but also concerned principles: documentary is a form of cinema! In its wake, La Bande gave birth to three events in response to these issues. Sunny Side of the Doc became a forum for the financial side of production, the Lyon Biennial later moved to Marseille to become the FID, and finally the États généraux du film documentaire was proposed as a place of meeting and reflection on the forms of creation within documentary in a charming Ardèche village which has since lent its name to this annual August event: Lussas.
This said, the French audiovisual scene has nothing of an idyllic landscape and seems to look more and more like an industrial wasteland, or a coal mound on at least on one side of the hill, the other continuing to flout an indecent and dominating luxury. However, amongst those of us working in the public service, times are tough where there has already been a drying up of the currents leading from the industry to the artisans. Tensions and ruptures are increasing. In this context the existence of more or less structured groups has its importance and we can see that the Club des 13, the ROD and FédéRézo for example, are so many attempts to weigh on the future. Things are also becoming tougher in documentary distribution where often festivals and associations are the only outlets. Their existence remains threatened by changes in public cultural policy but also by the undermining of the role of volunteers, not to mention sometimes unwelcome competition that the Red, another group, aims to surmount. We have had fine years behind us, it is now urgent to form new gangs necessary to create new possibilities for the future.
To start with, two consequential seminars whose reflections and films specify differing approaches and cinematic currents, but at the heart of which are always the questions of politics and film. The selection Incertains regards is also representative of a diversity of narratives, forms and production profiles. The cinema of Stephen Dwoskin powerfully prolongs a way of looking at the body. Films by Michael Grigsby and Thomas Ciulei constitute very different cinematographic spaces, each one paying extreme attention to the individual person, a cinema which moves to a more vital encounter with its characters, an attentive way of picking up speech, stylistic traits which are also very present in our selection of Czech documentary. This year's films also tell tales of exile and migration, physical and existential journeys by migrants to destinations which refuse them. At least, they find cinema along the way, from Mirages to Un ami est parti, D'un mur à l'autre, No Border passing by Bamako and Bab Sebta.
The good news is that we are still here to organise this event, however fragile and even worried we may be, but with the desire intact to continue this adventure along with our most faithful companions as well as those who will join us. The gang has a fine future if it is open and welcoming, demanding and daring, serious and rigourous, combattive and committed, filled with fantasy and joy, much like the cinema we defend.

Pascale Paulat and Christophe Postic