Among the films that made an impression on us in 2020, many of them describe young people on the threshold of adulthood, their suffering, their battles, their energy and also their insouciance. Echoing this recent production, the programming team of volunteers and employees of the Cent Soleils Association in Orleans, also celebrating its 20th birthday, has compiled a series of five films that hold up a mirror to the world’s current crisis and transition, for which young people are paying an especially high psychological price.
Each film portrays a particular aspect, during different periods from the 1990s to the first two decades of this century, of the issues we face: what can “cinéma du réel” achieve? Does it portray the difficulty of passing over this threshold, does it describe it? Can it do more, and become a catalyst? Does it possess its own specific force that can bring about a new political expression?
In these often timeless films, at an age when they should be dreaming about their futures, uninspired by their parents’ model, petrified by the world of work, these young people sometimes seem to hesitate as though gripped by a “threshold malaise”. “No-one is serious at 17” wrote Rimbaud, but he carried within him the poetic, dreamy seed of the 20th century.
Gaël Lépingle’s Julien dramatises the fast-approaching threshold to adulthood. For Julien, it involves going on stage “one last time” for the historical re-enactment and the amateur dramatics club that he knows (too) well, before approaching a new stage – his life elsewhere – that he can hardly imagine. Gaël Lépingle’s filmography anchors him firmly in a specific area, the Centre-Val-de-Loire region in France, and he offers us a movie in which cinema gives us a very personal portrait of this moment “just before” that seems like a mountain of unknowns to negotiate before eventually managing to see what’s happening on the other side.
Scheme Birds portrays the passage into adulthood in a tone less personal and far more dramatic. Directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin share the lives of council-estate teenagers in Scotland, and offer us a chilling picture in which the ingredients of an implacable social determinism – ostracism – come to light and echo each other across the ages.
Vincent Pouplard’s Boys in Wolves’ Clothing, unique in its kind, has, in contrast, a certain lightness and personal dimension, relegating the question of social determinism to the background and drawing us into the lives of these marginalised youths. Here the characters are filmed without being confronted by social norms. The film is complicit, tender and attentive, managing to get us to feel their beauty and uniqueness without judging.
And lastly, in Rémi Lange’s Omelette and General Strike, I Have a Dream by Matthieu Chatellier and Daniela de Felice, the films encapsulate one of those “évènements du reel” (real-life events) so dear to Jean Rouch. Because the camera was there at that particular moment, something happened that might not have happened, or that might not have been experienced with the same intensity… This process involves a personal catharsis in Omelette and takes on a powerful collective force in (G)rève général(e). In both films, the “cinéma du reel” invites us to share in giving birth to a new identity with the characters, to step over the threshold to adulthood and to feel different on the other side.
5 films, or 5 possibilities for documentary films to portray a truth. Here it’s the truth of youth ready to take the plunge, trying to find and take its place in human society, whether individually or collectively.
Cent Soleils Programming Committee
Cent Soleils brings together filmmakers and cinephiles around the desire to bring other cinematic images to life, from distribution to production, including support for amateur practices and Artistic and Cultural Education through Image Education. In 2012, Cent Soleils joined the 108-Maison de Bourgogne associative collective, which brings together structures involved in creation in all artistic fields. Cent Soleils pursues its mission of broadcasting and regularly programs films, documentaries in the broadest sense of the term, exploring cinema territories that can cross fiction, experimental, animation ... The programming team is composed of volunteers and is led and coordinated by an employee. The programming is the result of collective reflection. Cent Soleils has been accredited by Éducation populaire since 2006 and has been a member of the national network La Cinémathèque du documentaire since 2019.