Les États généraux du film documentaire 2010 Uncertain Viewpoints

Uncertain Viewpoints

The aim of the États généraux du film documentaire de Lussas in general and the programme "Uncertain Viewpoints" in particular seems self-evident: the celebration and defence of cinema, of documentary cinema, a genre for much of its history considered secondary, indeed minor, by certain film buffs, critics and even professionals. A testing ground for beginners, an occasional exercise for confirmed directors, documentary has long had to put up with this image which combines extreme simplification with an ignorance of the origins of cinema, its history and also each of the revolutions it has undergone. As if was forgotten the fact that often film's transformations first took hold in the field of documentary (cf. Flaherty, Vertov, Epstein or Rouch...).
These statements certainly deserve more precise study and no doubt nuance for the great period of classical cinema running from the nineteen twenties to the fifties. It is nonetheless true that documentary, no doubt because it enjoyed greater freedom than fiction which was very early tied to the market, opened up a vast field of experimentation for film-makers and their collaborators.

Since its first edition, the public of the États généraux de Lussas has undergone profound renewal. For much of its history it was a privileged meeting point for authors, producers and broadcasters. Lussas is today more a special place for encounters between films and regular visitors to the event who have made it their summer school. Each year an increasing number of films are registered for the "Uncertain Viewpoints" selection, testifying both to the vitality of the genre and to the importance given to a projection in this setting: school films, films made in workshops, self-financed or produced in the niches and margins of the system, films by both experienced authors and beginners.

Similart to other festivals, the documentaries produced with the major television companies are a small minority. This is even more the case if we consider the twenty films or so selected for this programme. This should be cause neither for surprise, rejoicing and even less considered the proof of some sort of ostracism working against them. Seeing end to end the submitted documentaries, it became clear that we found ourselves facing on one side a set of more or less polished films, and on the other a collection of proposals whose value was determined by the content or information they transmitted. These could be entirely fascinating, gripping and even indispensable. Television feeds off this type of programme but it is not the object of a meeting devoted to documentary cinema. There is no hierarchy suggested between two genres but undeniably a difference of aim and nature. The frontier between the two categories is however sometimes blurred, the notion "creative documentary" (invented if not to separate the wheat from the chaff, at least to define a policy of subsidy allocation at the CNC) is anything but a concept. Documentaries coproduced by television companies seem more and more characterised by informational and pedagogical preoccupations, with a sometimes obsessive concern to "take the spectator by the hand". The other films we have screened can be situated in our opinion between two extremes: those carried by their subjects or protagonists and who forget to work with everything that makes up the raw material of cinema (frame, light, sound, rhythm and time) and those, on the contrary, which overstress these elements and produce too many "carefully contrived frames", too much "beautiful lighting", organised in too sophisticated montages and, in so doing, throw overboard their subject and protagonists. It's by carefully crafting a course between these two weaknesses that we have put together this programme which has the ambition of being neither a list of prizes, nor an overview of the year's production.

In working on this programme and through the films we have chosen, we deliberately placed ourselves in the role of cinema spectator. We have, through the hundreds of films we viewed, searched for those which - humble or complex - while leaving us our entire liberty, renewed and sometimes shook up our relation to the world; those which, beyond the subjects dealt with, put as much trust in their viewers as in their story, in the narration they set up and which in cinema can only exist through the work of framing the image and moving the camera, by the precision and richness of work on the sound track, editing and the invention of time. It is not enough to place a camera in front of a human being for an encounter to take place, for reality, or the real as is said - but what is the real, what I see, what you see, what they see... and what do we see? - to be unveiled. The real is not, in cinema, what is in front of the camera but what the film, trusting in the power of image and sound, in a word cinema, constructs based on that with the spectator.

Gérald Collas and Pierre-Marie Goulet

Directors and producers will be present at the debates.