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Jean-Charles Hue

It was at the Paris-Cergy National Graduate School of Art, in the film studio then run by Patrice Rollet, that Jean-Charles Hue, using the simple dispositif of direct cinema, explored the possibilities of what could be described as cinema in the raw. Ever since his first films, he has sought to film the vibration of bodies, with the camera embedded amidst the chaos of action, which he tries not only to record but also traverse. A camera that is also wild-eyed, trying to look directly into the light, to the point of blindness. Moving through what is conspicuous to reach its very heart, a place where another image emerges, like an epiphany. Be it with the Dorkels, a Yenish family settled in Pontoise, or with outcasts in Tijuana, his films are a territory shared between fiction and documentary, the true and the legendary, between light and darkness, between life and death. His camera always balanced on the threshold, in between.

The story forged by all the films made with the Dorkels – La BM du Seigneur and Mange tes morts, together with all his preceding shorts – is an adventure story in which, like the pure western classics, love, faith and violence build the legend. More than anyone else, Fred Dorkel is this real character caught “legending in flagrante delicto”(1) and through whom the image of an entire people comes to cinema. Filming the Dorkels, making films with them also means sharing their life, camping on the border between art and life. In Tijuana, it is on this same border that Jean-Charles Hue stands. He roams the city streets and, far from the trendy districts, films underworld characters whose daily life is mainly taken up by drugs, violence and prostitution. His camera sticks tightly to the state of these protagonists, between wanderings and trance, and films with kindliness, whether they are eating, quarrelling, smoking crack or flipping into a parallel world. The camera then escapes into fantasy, pearls and trinkets glisten like treasures, bodies rejuvenate, floating under veils of colour. When filming these ravaged men and women, the filmmaker tries his utmost to capture the vibrant imprint of these people’s intensely fragile life, as if to hold onto it or restore its materiality.

Hue’s cinema could be viewed as desperate, but it is driven by belief, a belief in the ability of some to abandon themselves to extreme states, plunge into an unreal and hallucinatory space-time, to the point of deserting the world of mortals, then miraculously returning… The belief in a haunting and dreamlike beauty dragged out of the mire in a state of grace that is beyond chaos. 

Catherine Bizern

(1)To use the expression of Pierre Perrault and the ideas of Gilles Deleuze.