The Good Grain and the Chaff
Le Bon grain et l'ivraie
- Manuela Frésil
- 94 min
- Gaël Teicher (La Traverse), Christian Lelong (Cinédoc Films)
In 2015, Manuela Frésil met families living in the streets of Annecy. Over the course of a year, she films the life of children living out their childhood, while their silent and worried parents try to preserve some semblance of family life. Living conditions are harsh and become even more so when the Prefect decides to close the centre that lodges them. The hostel, the city-centre square, the flat on loan, every night they have to find somewhere to sleep. And for the children’s sake, they act as if all were normal between school and home. Even in winter, when snow is falling and the only daytime shelter is the train station, no one thinks of returning to their home country. For these children, who handle French as if they were born here, this home country is often no more than where their parents come from.
For the first time, Manuela Frésil has made a film alone, with a camera, a microphone and a car. She has made it alone without a crew but, in fact, she is never alone. She is with these children, watching them as they watch her and talk about their daily life, their hopes, fears, also about what they understand of situations they do not understand. They play for her, play with her. The filmmaker is drawn into her film, offscreen but in an omnipresent reverse shot that we can easily imagine. By filming these children who have been refused asylum by the French government, Manuela has legitimised their presence, not only in our eyes but also in theirs, they are centre stage. Facing the camera, they live, have fun, chatter, they exist in everyone’s eyes, they are there for all to see, they belong here and now.
After a BA in philosophy, Manuela Frésil worked as an editing intern with Jean Rouch at the Comité du Film Ethnographique, then entered La Fémis. With her “classmates” Françoise Bernard, Juliette Cahen, Ariane Doublet and Pascal Goblot, she co-directed Terre-neuvas (Audience Award at Visions du reel, Nyon, in 1993). Between 2007 and 2011, she made Entrée du personnel, which won the Grand Prix in the French competition at FID Marseille and has screened at many festivals.