French selection 2019

Madame Baurès

Mehdi Benallal

2019France17 min

A stroll through the present-day municipalities of Vincennes and Saint Mandé, once home to Madame Baurès, a woman and Communist. The filmmaker’s voice-over recounts the memory of the story that Ray­monde had entrusted to him. Her own fragmented story attempts to stitch itself onto a wider history: the history of the Paris suburbs, factory work, the world of workers, the arri­val of social housing, collective move­ments, personal clashes. The film allows the present to seep into this story, resonances emerge, coinci­dences happen. The camera is dis­creet, it records passers-by in these transformed towns, walkers in the Bois de Vincennes, it intercepts voices. And the filmmaker confronts the impossibility of exploring a woman’s struggle to exist. He is asked if he has the right to be there filming, who he is working for, if he has the authorisations. The fear that history be forgotten appears and remains fixed in the statues that bear witness to past struggles and no lon­ger seem to be part of the landscape. Eventually, the present escapes, Madame Baurès disappears and the film follows her. For her body, there are statues, memorials finally brought back to life by memory. For her voice, there is an echo of “The Internationale”. She is no longer addressed as “she”, but “you”. A final letter, an adieu to a woman and her world. A film to help, to identify “ordinary people”, and perhaps tell the story of a woman who held fast, and the story of the notion of a dying municipality. 
–Clémence Arrivé

  • As a student at the La Fémis film school, Mehdi Benallal directed his documentary, 3 2 1 (Trois deux une) (2001), and several short fiction films. His documentary es­say To the dreamers all the trump cards in your hands was shown at the 2011 Cinéma du réel. His short autobiographical documentary, Bois d’Arcy, screened at the 2013 Cinéma du réel. He then directed The Blue Hand, a short fiction film, and The Epimodernist, a burlesque fantasy.

  • PRODUCTION : Guillaume Massart (Triptyque Films), Pierre Bompy (Triptyque Films)

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