Prends, Seigneur, Prends
For You, Lord, For You
Cédric Dupire, Gaspard Kuentz
2017 / France, India / 92 min
During the ceremonies of the Panchwa festival, the Kalbelia of Rajasthan converse with their dead – warriors and goddesses – through the entranced bodies of the living. The film begins and ends on the modest stage of a brick altar, first quite bare in the middle of the desert, then overladen with offerings and sacrificial blood. It recreates the immersive intensity of this ritual of flesh, blood, flames and cries – in this sense, the camera’s presence is more than welcome, as if putting a finishing touch to the spectacle: “Leave us alone” declares the priest, “except for the Whites: they are filming”… Jacob Stambach’s sound work bolsters this intensity, while in turn the ritual feeds the filming with the colours of pigments and blood. The possessed stream past the altar to impart their supplications, while a handful of mediums of all ages offer up their bodies to the Lord in a striking act of instant incarnation. The spectacular also functions as a social game: when the priest replies: “You ought to have treated me better!” to a man who asks him “Will my father be cured?”, it is impossible to decide whether it is the dignitary himself speaking or the Lord speaking through him. Suspicions of the mediums’ imposture, heard here and there, further isolate the ritual in a bubble of belief, fervent but ready to burst. (Charlotte Garson)
Production: Studio Shaiprod, TV Tours, Studio Orlando, Lom Nath Panwar
Print source: Studio Shaiprod
Cédric Dupire is an autodidact. He shot his first documentary film in 2005 in Rajasthan with traditional musicians. Gaspard Kuentz graduated in Japan and now favours a hybrid approach for his films. Both share the same taste for new horizons and for music and sound. Together they have already directed We Don’t Care About Music Anyway…, presented at Cinéma du réel in 2010, and Kings of the Wind & Electric Queens (2014) about an animal fair in Sonepur.