« Seeing as these men and women worked so hard to share these images, we have to watch them. » Written in white on a black screen at the beginning of the film, this imperative, as much artistic as ethical, has been Christophe Cognet’s guiding principle for nigh on 20 years with regards to the clandestine images produced in Nazi camps. Now, From Where we Stood emerges as the greatest achievement of this stubborn undertaking. The body of this research is made up of photographs taken by men and women in five concentration camps, risking their lives in the process. The filmmaker/historian’s ambition is both simple and staggering: from the starting point of fragments of film saved from hell, he goes back to the act of taking a photograph, to the precise time and place each shot was taken. From camp to camp two stages of enquiry are carried out of with such rare power, both in terms of evocation and portrayal, and in the sharing of this act in the present time. The first stage: to describe the photos, as meticulously as possible, then to extract as much information and hypotheses from them as possible in terms of the context of the act of madness of which they provide proof. With the negatives in hand, the filmmaker and his faithful allies, historians and interpreters, share their knowledge and questions. Second stage: armed with knowledge, the photos are transferred to large glass plates, then, roaming through what remains of the camp, they try to pinpoint the exact site where the photo was taken and, in a determined, fumbling way, attempt to override the passage of time, lest we forget, and the traces of the past stuck in these imaged. There is no voiceover to provide the viewer with the comfort of established expertise. A feverish passion combined with the greatest reserve guides him, step by step, to the heart of the shadows, to the edge of the mad desire to see.
- GNCR Award
FROM WHERE WE STOOD
- GNCR Award
France / 2021 / 110’
Original Version : German, French, Polish.
Subtitles : German, English, French.
Script : Christophe Cognet.
Photography : Céline Bozon.
Editing : Catherine Zins.
Sound : Nathalie Vidal, Marc Parisotto.
Production : Raphaël Pillosio (L’atelier documentaire).
Distribution : MK2.
Filmography : Sept mille années, 2017. Parce que j’étais peintre, 2014. Les anneaux du serpent, 2008. Quand nos yeux sont fermés, 2006. L’atelier de Boris, 2004. Les sentiers de Fred, 2001. L’affaire Dominici par Orson Welles, 2000. Gongonbili, de l’autre côté de la colline, 1997.