Cinema, a “window on the world”
“We need to go to the cinema, and the cinemas need us”. For Pierre-Olivier Boiton, journalist at La Croix L’hebdo and member of the prize selection committee, nothing can replace cinemas, “those places of contemplation that can elevate us”. Anne-Claire de Gaujac, president of the film club CIN’AZUR Nice and member of the selection committee, adds that the room offers the certainty of seeing the film from beginning to end, that it is a collective experience to be shared. And to Magali Van Reeth, film journalist for SIGNIS and member of the award’s selection committee, to add that cinema is a unique experience: “we feel emotions at the same time as others, we leave the film and we talk about it”.
The year 2022 marks the return of the French public to cinemas, with more than 150 million cumulative admissions. Avatar II has something to do with it, since the film has accumulated more than ten million admissions in five weeks. The speakers recall that by buying a ticket for Avatar, we help arthouse cinema. Far from the American blockbusters, there are more humble, independent films, which question contemporary concerns. It is the very essence of the Croire au cinema prize to be interested in these feature films. “This cinema opens a window on the world, it is a mirror that we hold up to the society in which we live”, emphasizes Magali Van Reeth. From the cinema, we travel, in time as well as in space.
Can cinema change the world?
The Croire au Cinéma award thus stands out as a profession of faith in the 7th art. Created in 2021 by the Signis-Cinéma association, it distinguishes a film among all those distributed in France the previous year. The architects of this prize are convinced that cinema can change our lives. The eight films selected have in any case the power to tell the world, or rather the worlds. From tomorrow’s Japan to yesterday’s Latvia via the high mountains of the Himalayas, the directors invite you to travel and reflect.
The jury’s choices
In My favorite war, Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen recounts her childhood in Latvia during the USSR, using different materials. She mixes animated films, archives, photos and real shots with great freedom, which manages to touch children and adults. Pierre-Olivier Boiton sees in it the quest for the emancipation of a country, a sadly current quest.
Iciar Bollain signs with The penitents a film inspired by real facts about forgiveness. Maixabel Lasa lost her husband in an ETA attack in 2000. Twelve years later, she agrees to meet the terrorists who killed her husband. A film chosen for the power of words, which allows “think and dress the keys, to open a living space”, explains Anne-Claire de Gaujac.
In Another world, Stéphane Brizé imagines the daily life of a company executive forced to lay off employees. It’s a social film that criticizes the economic world. “He spares no one”, underlines Magali Van Reeth, before adding that the feature film shows the difficulty of being oneself in society. “It’s a hard film that can seem dark and stuffy, but with a touch of hope”, explains Pierre-Olivier Boiton.
The functioning of the judicial police is little known and seems inaccessible. To remedy this, Dominik Moll follows a brigade of the PJ in The night of 12. He shows the humanity of the police in their work, their weaknesses and their tenacity. The film denounces violence against women, in the quest for a fairer society.
The Japanese Chie Hayakawa invites us to reflect on old age in Map 75. In the near future, the government is offering people over 75 an accompaniment towards death, in exchange for a check. The director praises slowness and testifies to the importance of the encounter with the other.
The praise of slowness can also be seen in snow panther, by Vincent Munier and Marie Amiguet. The film praises expectation, nature, humility in the face of the Himalayan mountains. Adapted from the novel by Sylvain Tesson, this documentary of an “invigorating spirituality” questions the way in which man fits into the world.
Hasan’s promises, by Semih Kaplanoğlu, follows a man preparing for his pilgrimage to Mecca. Before leaving, this Turkish arborist has to solve a few problems, living his departure for Mecca as a spiritual step. He rereads his past actions. The director mixes different looks, on the landscapes as well as on the faults of men.
Gad Elmaleh marked 2022 with his film Stay a bit. This docu-fiction touched the jury for its “extreme sincerity”, its “astonishing alchemy between the seriousness of the subject and well-placed touches of humor”. The actor plays his own role, attracted by the Catholic religion despite the Jewish education he received.