Press in Cannes Filmed years of Annie Ernaux

(Bolaps) In years, the great French writer Annie Ernaux published in 2008 in the form of a masterful, intimate and collective autobiography, the work of a lifetime. His first attempt at cinema, Super 8 yearsa documentary she made with her son David, continues in the same way, focusing on the 1970s.

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Presented at the world premiere on Monday in two weeks of directors in the presence of the 81-year-old author, the film narrates in her own words the most touching decade of her personal and professional career, as well as implicitly, global upheavals. geopolitical ..


Super 8 years

From several movie reels shot in Super 8 between 1972 and 1981 by her now-deceased ex-husband, she made a feature film showing the beginnings of her emancipation and freedom, marked by the publication of her first novel , Empty lockersin 1974.

A book she wrote “in secret” by her husband – whom Philippe Ernaux calls in the film, without ever naming him – and which was published by Gallimard when she was 33 years old.

“I was a woman tortured by the need to write,” she says in the film, about which she gives both the text and the narrative. “A book does not change your life,” she adds. Not as hoped or believed. »

This icon of feminism, some of whose novels have been adapted to the big screen – memorable eventwho recounts the clandestine abortion she suffered at the age of 24, won the Golden Lion in Venice last year for director Audrey Diwan – she had never wanted to make films.

“The idea did not come from me in the beginning, but from my son,” she explained to the audience at the end of the performance. Or rather for his grandchildren, specifies David Ernaux-Briot, who wanted to know more about their grandparents and whose curiosity was aroused by learning about the existence of these more or less abandoned coils in a closet.

Super 8 years is a “fragment of the family autobiography,” says Annie Ernaux, at a crucial moment in her life. It’s the film of a left-wing feminist commenting on a turbulent part of life, that of a breakup to come, and the progressive end of its softening. She was the “feeder,” she says, and wanted freedom and equality.

We do not guess seeing these images of a smiling woman at home and on a trip. But behind the projected image hides melancholy, sadness, disappointment.

“The image can give an impression of joy,” Annie Ernaux explained to spectators gathered at the Théâtre Croisette. “These films can never follow the inside of the participants. »

His diary at the time did not tell the same story. She dived back into it and drew a text from it. “It took words to understand these silent images,” she says. Its history is chronological. It is about her family life in Annecy, in the Alps – from which she did not like, at first, the “brutal and transient spring” -, then in Cergy-Pontoise, on the outskirts of Paris.

The footage filmed by Philippe Ernaux reports on family travel, in this time of tourism democratization. Starting with an unforgettable stay in Chile, a country under Allende of a progressive ideal, as perceived by the French left, and which no longer existed, a year later, after Pinochet took power. Then there is Corsica, Spain, shortly after Franco’s death.

Soon it is the end of his relationship, in turmoil after the publication in 1980 of his novel Frozen woman, where he talks about his marriage. “I am very much in his life”, she writes in her diary, after 17 years of cohabitation.

In the footage filmed during a recent family trip to Portugal in 1981, no one smiles anymore. The contrast is striking, notes Annie Ernaux, with the “all hopes” of Socialist François Mitterand’s presidency. In the same year, a four-day trip to Moscow was the last to be filmed. Her ex-husband left with the camera. She had custody of her two sons and her films, forgotten for nearly 40 years.

It was necessary, she says, for her sons to become fathers for these images to be revised and give this intimate and delicate film, which reveals another part of Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical work. Hoping one day it could be seen in Quebec. The latest novel from the 1984 Renaudot Award winner (for country), The youngabout her relationship with a man 30 years younger in the 1990s, just published by Gallimard.

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