Saxifrages, quatre nuits blanches
Nicolas Klotz et Elisabeth Perceval
« In the shadows of Low Life, a secret ceremony dedicated to thirteen guardians of humanity’s common treasures, love and resistance, youth and poetry, equality and difference, insurrection and revolution. Saxifrages … These rootless plants’ windblown destiny is a soft perseverance doubled by an imperceptible intransigence, which, in time, imposes on the hardness of stones a patience that can break them. »
– Saad Chakali
“It is only in the shadows that the struggle takes place.”* It is night. In other words, it is no longer day. And it is the after-time. After the catastrophe. It is also the film that comes after Low Life in the work of Nicolas Klotz and Élisabeth Perceval, and bears its trace and gothic romanticism. The city is a non-place: a stretch of wall, river banks, a café for night owls… In the deserted streets, meetings between beings who could be angels or demons, ghosts or zombies, we cannot tell. They are twenty years old, a hundred years old, a thousand years old. They bear the trace of youth and an intimate awareness of time. In truth, youth has already lived through many things. These beings are inhabited by the power of words, and spoken words, like a song, have the quality of bodies. They recite fragments of texts written and left by others, texts of resistance, freedom, love and revolutions. In the dark streets, persistent thoughts circulate. Could they gnaw away the night and all the stones so that “the dislocating energy of poetry”* can spread out again? “You need a certain dose of tenderness to discern a trickle of light in this obscurity.” The fire is brewing. The film is a celebration. It is fanning the embers. “Noble painting, my neighbor’s pretext and his struggle, in the faint dawn I guard you as I guard my hunk of bread, waiting
for what I envision as a day of high rain and of green loam, which will come for those who burn and for the stubborn.”*
Clémence Arrivé et Catherine Bizern
* Quotes taken from René Char’s poem “For a Saxifrage Prometheus”, translated by Susanne Dubroff.
Through their films, Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval question the cinematic form and the upheavals of the contemporary world. They are currently preparing a retrospective with the Centre Georges Pompidou (November 2021), bringing together for the first time some fifty of their feature-length narrative and documentary films, clandestine dialogues, short and medium-length films, and video essays. Fragments of their filmography: Paria, La Blessure, Heartbeat Detector, Low Life, Clandestine Dialogues, Mata Atlantica, L’Héroïque Lande, Fugitif où cours-tu?