For 200 years, paper was manufactured in Bessé-sur-Braye. 600 employees lost their jobs here when the factory closed in 2019, leaving them abandoned residents of an abandoned town.
Three Questions for the Director
1. Short Film has a unique way of telling stories and exploring themes. What is it that fascinates you about the short format?
Hugo Martin: Basically, I think that storytelling in a short format is not that different from a feature film. It seems to me that what is inherent in the short film is the possibility to experiment more freely, considering the distribution system of the short film which remains relatively undeveloped. Short films are less coercive than we think. In fact, it forces us to go straight to the point, to tend towards a form of efficiency even violence, in order to succeed in telling the story dear to our hearts. The film has to hold together, we can't spread ourselves too thin. It is this requirement of the discourse and the form that pushes me to surpass myself and to search a lot. I really like to think about the writing of a short film in terms of devices (in the artistic sense of the word). So, the short format forces me to prepare my films rigorously, which allows me to really slack off by the emotions that arise during the shooting. These emotions, I try as accurately as possible to retranscribe them simply by finding tricks of staging, as the shots of the inhabitants who wait in front of their door, in my film "Bessé-sur-Braye".
2. The program your film is selected for is called “Mementos of Late Capitalism”: What connection do you see between your film and that title?
Hugp Martin: The name of the selection could have been a possible title for my film. By describing the sad reality of a country village in the peripheral France, I mentioned the industrial past that has marked generations of Besséens. These traces of abandoned factories have very mortifying resonances. These steel and concrete behemoths, standing tall despite everything, are also an imprint of the late capitalism had on the country villages. But it is above all in the consciousness of the people who have given life to these voracious multinationals that this harsh look at capitalism and its representatives is imprinted. Finally, they are the living witnesses of this period when the industries made live the whole country at the price of the sweat of the workers. The inhabitants of Bessé carry within them the memory of late capitalism and of a more active rurality, now gone.
3. What film has inspried you most to make films yourself and what part of it do you see in your own work?
Hugo Martin: Since high school, I have built up a cinephilia of Bergman, Philippe Garrel, Chabrol, Akerman,... It's very hard to see how our influences are reflected in our films. However, I feel that I like to look at faces, to scrutinize them; to capture the furtive look that translates the truth of the characters in a fragment of a second. I think I owe this belief in the human being and this finesse of observation, in slowness, to these filmmakers who form the pantheon of my cinephilia. When I was preparing my film "Bessé-sur-Braye", I saw again films by Serguei Loznitsa and Jean-Daniel Pollet. I think that these two filmmakers have accompanied me in a more visible way in my film. The strength of Loznitsa's cinema lies in the radicality and the strength of his choices. I tried to move towards this thinking in device as a way of writing a story with the camera movements, the centrifugal force of framing, the importance of working on the texture of the image... With Jean-Daniel Pollet, I became convinced that people's testimonies could be captured in a very simplistic way, the editing giving them back all their strength by playing on the sound status of the words.
Screenplay: Hugo Martin
Director of Photography: Hugo Martin
Producer: Lina Baraka
Director: Hugo Martin
Sales Agent: Hugo Martin
Editor: Alice Dontenwille
Sound Design: Zoé Chanavat
Sound Mixing: Zoé Chanavat
Sound Editing: Zoé Chanavat