Ceux de la nuit
What stories have forged the paths of the Montgenèvre Pass and Durance valley? The passage of the Roman road, of herds making their way to pasturelands, of migrants from Italy, of Hannibal and his elephants perhaps. The landscape is shaped and written by those who have passed through, all those who cross it leave traces of their crossing. Perhaps these exiles used the craggy paths taken by the herds, or perhaps the opposite. What are the valley’s new stories? Today, exiled people try for the route to Briançon to avoid police roadblocks. To help them, men and women come at night to light up and mark out the paths. Formerly, a horn was blown to signal the way for those lost. Sarah Leonor assembles and intersects stories, stories of slopes, stories opposed, stories compared. Voices recite the testimonies of the valley’s inhabitants and cover the steep landscapes. The day travellers tell more cheerful stories than the night travellers. Frontiers are crossed at night – for some they exist, for others not really. But along the paths, stories and destinies come to meet. And sometimes the day travellers find the bodies of the night travellers high above the ski slopes or on their route. In flashes, the mountain reveals its story. The film of Sarah Leonor is a work of reading: reading the landscape in order to show those we don’t see – obscure, undesirable, lost lives that hide but leave their traces.
Sarah Leonor was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1970. She first studied Art History and Russian there, before moving to Paris in 1991 and taking a degree in Film and Audiovisual Studies at the University of Paris 7 – Jussieu. Her thesis was on the Armenian filmmaker Arthur Pelechian, whose teachings she considers her basis as a filmmaker. Her first short film, Napoli 90′, shot in Italy with Benoît Finck, was selected in 1994 at the Cinéma du Réel Festival. This was followed by several short films that were shown in numerous festivals. The medium-length film L’Arpenteur, co-directed in Armenia with Michel Klein, won the Jean Vigo prize in 2002. Her first two feature fiction films, Au voleur (A real life, 2009) and Le Grand Homme (The Great Man, 2014) , debuted respectively at the Locarno and Toronto festivals.