our five favorite documentaries in competition

Dozens of films are screened today and until April 2 at the Center Pompidou and the Forum des images in Paris. Between blind spots in history and intimate trajectories, zoom in on some nuggets of this 45th edition.

Farewell to the Wild, by Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento. The Colombian director traveled to the Amazon to meet the Kakua people, affected by an “epidemic” of suicides. Courtesy of the Real Cinema Festival

By François Ekchajzer, Cécile Marchand Ménard

Published on March 24, 2023 at 08:00

Qforty-one feature films in competition, a tribute to Jean-Louis Comolli, several national previews – including that of Our body by Claire Simon –, thematic focuses… For her 45e edition, the Cinéma du réel festival confirms its appetite for singular, committed and demanding documentary productions. Among this plethoric offer, proposed at the Center Pompidou and the Forum des images, in Paris, we have selected five favorite sessions to attend before the closing, on April 2.

“Wild farewell”: requiem kakua in Colombia

How to explain the increasing number of suicides among young First Nations in Colombia? In an attempt to find answers, Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento, himself of Amerindian origin – as evidenced by his surname, which is too long for Belgian administrative forms –, returns, in wild farewell, in the footsteps of his ancestors. But quickly, his subject is swept away by his meeting with Laureano Gallego Lopez, a member of the Kakua people. Immersed for several weeks in this community nestled in the heart of the Amazon, he gradually reconnects with his own Indianness. “I wanted a native-to-native exchange, but I don’t know if I’m one”, he doubts in a comment posed on delicate sequences in black and white, devoid of exoticism. However, despite his obvious inadequacy to local ways of life, when he evokes the relationship to love or loneliness with the Kakua, Sarmiento approaches this community as closely as possible… and the feelings that it struggles to name. .

wild farewell, by Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento (Belgium, France, 2023), 92 min. Friday March 24, 8:45 p.m., Center Pompidou, cinema 1.

“Ana Rosa”: genealogy of lobotomy

When her parents died, Catalina Villar found a photograph of her grandmother, Ana Rosa, in the drawers of their Colombian home. The only memory of this grandmother whom she did not know and of whom she knows almost nothing. “All I know is that he was given a lobotomy”, explains in commentary the documentary filmmaker. By trying to trace the life of her grandmother, before and after this operation, Catalina Villar explores the history of this neurosurgical practice, mainly practiced on women, whom it made, in the best of cases, apathetic. “She was independent and a bit rebellious in a conservative society”, explains an old acquaintance of Ana Rosa. Over the course of this fascinating documentary, meeting the heirs of surgeons who, like her own uncle, performed such procedures, or diving into hospital archives, Catalina Villar finds answers that are as personal as they are universal. Beyond the fate of her grandmother, it is that of women and the marginalized that the director sheds light on.

Ana Rose, by Catalina Villar (France, Colombia, 2023), 93 min. Saturday March 25, 6:15 p.m., Forum des images; and Friday March 31, 4 p.m., Center Pompidou, cinema 1.

“Here Brazza”: memories of a wasteland in Bordeaux

In the north-east of the Bordeaux conurbation, adjoining the quay on the right bank which gives it its name, the Brazza district is the subject of a large-scale urban planning project that Antoine Boutet questions in Brazza here. With this science of framing and editing already at work in South Water North Move (2014), he builds bridges between what this place is no longer and what it could be, as well as between what it remains and what it already is. And invites us, as gradually as the district takes shape, to a critical reflection all the more profound as it avoids any discourse on this former wasteland in the process of normalization.

On the right bank of Bordeaux, near the Chaban-Delmas bridge, and opposite the Chartrons and Bassins à Flot districts, the former industrial wasteland Brazza is now undergoing a major transformation.

On the right bank of Bordeaux, near the Chaban-Delmas bridge, and opposite the Chartrons and Bassins à Flot districts, the former industrial wasteland Brazza is now undergoing a major transformation. Courtesy of the Real Cinema Festival

Here Brazza, by Antoine Boutet (France, 2023), 86 min. Sunday March 26, 8:30 p.m., Forum des images; and Thursday March 30, 4.30 p.m., Center Pompidou, cinema 1.

“Europe Ship”: me and my grandmother, Holocaust survivor

“My grandmother was an admirable woman, my grandmother was a terrible woman. » In Europe ship, Marina Déak films her grandmother, Trude Levi, a survivor of the death camps, in the last months of her life. As her words lose their coherence, as her memories fade and the woman she was gradually disappears. To the tedious interviews facing the camera of his grandmother, the assistant documentary filmmaker of the images of trips to Europe that Trude once traveled, but also of his family, affected by a trauma which is transmitted like a heritage, from generation to generation. The result is a moving documentary, imbued with urgency and crossed by questions condemned to remain unanswered.

Europe ship, by Marina Déak (France, 2023), 86 min. Sunday March 26, 9 p.m., Center Pompidou, cinema 1.

“Orlando: my political biography”: trans tribute to Virginia Woolf

In 1928, Virginia Woolf imagined Orlando, a biographya hybrid novel in the image of its protagonist, a young noble from the court of Elizabeth Ire, crossing eras, classes and plunged into a long sleep before waking up as a woman. Nearly a hundred years later, the philosopher Paul B. Preciado delivers with Orlando: my political biography a version as personal as it is modern of this singular novel, presented and awarded at the last Berlinale. In it, twenty-six transgender or non-binary people, from 8 to 70 years old, put on Orlando’s collarette and delicately mix his destiny with theirs. Experience of gender dysphoria, of transition, but also of love. In rich and flamboyant settings, it is impossible to disentangle the romantic narrative from the biographical testimonies. A magnificent tribute to the profound universality of Woolf’s writings.


cinema of reality, 45e edition, from Friday March 24 to Sunday April 2, Center Pompidou, Paris 4e.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.