INTERVIEW – INCIDENCES
Incidences takes us in a reverie where landscapes blend with images of a young woman appearing. How did you elaborate this film?
Incidences was built in four phases. First I produced one film every year over three consecutive years before I could gather these three films in the final editing process. I filmed landscapes with different cameras, as an amateur, making a diary. What was missing, though, in my view, was a human figure these landscapes would revolve around. I was living with Chloé Pechoultres who, quite naturally, turned out to be this missing figure which the film could be articulated with.
Fragments of Emily Dickinson’s poems resonate in a crescendo with these shots. What was that interested you in her work? How did you select these texts and why did you have them read on screen?
Emily Dickinson’s poems came later. As it turns out, and as far as she’s concerned, everything is poetry. Poetry draws inspiration from ordinary life. It’s also an active principle of my film, as it is for the directors whose films I’ve spent a lot of time watching: I’m thinking, for instance, of Jonas Mekas or Jean Eustache, though for different reasons. Emily Dickinson’s writing plays with suspension, with contrast between what is near and what is far. She questions presence; poses the mortal subject in front of divine eternity. For her, love is part of religion: light is therefore central in the setting she creates. People know she led a solitary life whose limit was the garden and the imagination. So, as I read her complete works, I projected the sequences I already edited around Chloé Pechoultres who became its double through substitution. My choice to have texts read on screen enables spectators to experience a degree of reversibility between images and words, choosing the poems in terms of the similarities I found between her literary writing and my own writing for film.
You alternate digital with analogue shots; from colour to black and white. How did you work the image with Chloé Pechoultres?
At first, I worked the image on my own since Chloé Pechoultres was my model – in the sense Bresson understands the term. Different cameras enabled me to accumulate and edit a variety of viewpoints, regardless of their format, and without having to assign them a specific narrative role. By the time Chloé Pechoultres came in, she brought the shooting to a close. To the extent that she was there all through the film’s elaboration, and even my discovery of cinema in general, she knew what to record and, with very few indications, she came back with rushes out of which I selected images related to my own. So her gaze made that of her own character.
The work on sound emphasizes the impression of recollecting times you experienced. How did you conceive it?
If Emily Dickinson’s texts enhance the film’s structure, sound is its leading element. A sound thrown onto an image might call for a new image, be part of the unity of a sequence, introduce a dialectic between what we hear, what we see and what we read. The image is first and foremost a surface, possibly one relating to the surface of a page. The action of sound, however, is deep and more immediate; it changes the perception of surfaces at hand, producing their off camera space. Given that I work mainly in Super 8, sound is often recorded apart from images; but it’s taken in the same conditions. Composer Xavier Fontanier took part in the sound elaboration of the first part of the film which set the tone for the rest of the editing process.
The film alternates between appearances and disappearances, from shadow to light.
How did you create this rhythm in editing?
As for the shooting, editing is empirical and decisions often depend on what actually enables time flow given that disparate fragments make up the film. The fact that it was first composed of three parts produced three self-contained movements, even though it wasn’t simply a matter of going from one end to another. The editing is built very much like something suddenly appearing, followed by disappearance or a dissolution, rather, and then a return.
How can we interpret the title, Incidences?
As the plural form of the original French term shows, all possible meanings may be ascribed to it.
Interviewed by Olivier Pierre