November 3, 2022 Screening

Cinéma les Variétés



Claire Doyon

France / 2021 / 88’


Eight years ago, during a trip to the Mongolian steppes, Claire Doyon composed a luminous portrait of her autistic daughter (Pénélope, FID 2012). A few of its scenes have found their way into this film which, from hundreds of hours of rushes accumulated over the years, recounts the story of life, of and with Pénélope. The narrative is a double movement. A forwards movement first, which recounts the battle of a mother who has dedicated her life to fighting against her daughter’s disease, against medical and social violence. To the extent, she says, that she gave up being a filmmaker. After Les Allées sombres (The dark alleys) (FID 2015), Pénélope, mon amour proves that this is far from being the case. For in this war, as she also says, the camera is both weapon and shield. The film never ceases to emphasise this truth: what keeps her going, is to continue filming what goes on, however painful it might be. This fixing of attention and the patience of images has allowed Claire Doyon to
express herself in words, to lay her voice bare as she thinks of her years of life with Pénélope. As the words flow, a second movement gradually rises beneath the first: A moving tale of learning, of a mother who gives up her battle to accompany her daughter on the path to peace. Beneath the Mongolian sun, among the reindeer, Penelope’s actions blossom like flowers. After which the image continues to widen until it reveals, in the clearing of a field of ancient ruins, the punk sovereignty of Penelope. It is the story of a young woman who will never fit in but whom the cinema, because it is able to appreciate her extraordinary existence, helps her to find her own special place in the world.

(Cyril Neyrat)

Cinéma les Variétés

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