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Florence Pazzottu

Florence Pazzottu
A woman sweeps the floor, then hands the broom to a man: he sweeps a bit, and hands it back to her. In this film, named after Vasari’s biography of Giorgione, man and woman reenact Manet and Titian, switch places, and in so doing, exchange their nudity and the gaze that seeks it. In voiceover, a woman reads a letter telling of her efforts to sign up her daughter in daycare ; other kafkaesque situations follow, drawing wth humour the picture of a life of submission to an absurd administrative power. In the frame, birds and their choreographies echo the wanderings of the two characters in the Camargue countryside. (Nathan Letoré)

Interview with Florence Pazzottu

Could you tell us about the title, and notably the subtitle, which makes the reference explicit?

« Continually occupied by things of love » is what Giorgio Vasari, author of the Lives of the artists, wrote about another Giorgio, the Venetian master called Giorgione. The subtitle allows me to avoid having to specify whether the subject is masculine or feminine, plural or singular (for on screen we see a man and a woman, and the masculine singular might have been surprising), and announces the quotation. A painter discusses another painter, paintings are going to be reenacted.

The pictorial reference is indeed very important, as you have your actors reenact two famous paintings, but you also have them exchange places. Why?

Two paintings that link us to Giorgione, since Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe is inspired by his Pastoral Concert and the Venus of Urbino by Titian, his disciple, was long attributed to him. Reenacting them together is displacing them. Because of the water, the lake in Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe and the laguna or canal, invisible but that one imagines behind the window in the venetian painting, I chose Beauduc beach, in Camargue. And as I look at these works in the present tense and as it’s a love film, the sharing is given. Sharing nudity and sharing the gaze, indeed. This implied that Juliette Penblanc and Hugues Breton, not really actors but rather companions to my films since ch…, exchange positions, in order for the work to be recognizable despite the very large freedom of interpretation, for it to be present as a common reference.

The almost straubian voice-over is built around letters addressed to structures of exclusion or social discrimination in daily life. Could you tell us more about these letters ?

Structures of exclusion, you say, and that’s precisely what institutions should not be, isn’t it ? These letters are authentic, or at least refer to real contemporary situations. Lived situations, which has allowed me to grasp them through their details. It was important to me that these letters be addressed, with an earnestness that does rule out comedy. And that their reading might meld with the couple’s wanderings in the countryside, or that of the birds, while contrasting with the reenactment of the paintings, their levity and joyous intensity. So that, in the end, it is they who seem to embody real life.

Birds also play a key role in the film’s montage. Why this presence ?

The birds are the people, or the peoples, of Beauduc and the Camargue natural reserve. They are of course part of the landscape. But I also wanted them to be present as figures, or as motifs. Just like Georges’s pontoon. We don’t see Georges, who is in some ways the living memory and protector of the Sablons village, but his pontoon has a central role in the film. It ensures, along with the flamingoes and a few objects, a continuity between sequences, while the birds also punctuate the passage from one letter to the next on the soundtrack. And as the film is a tribute to my father, and therefore weaves threads between Italy and France, it was nice to receive the help of the flamingo masters ! [translator’s note : in French, flemish and flamingo are homophones].

Interview by Nathan Letoré

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Technical sheet

France / 2022 / Colour / 30’

Original version : french
Subtitles : english
Script : Florence Pazzottu
Photography : Florence Pazzottu
Editing : Florence Pazzottu
Sound : Florence Pazzottu
Production : Mireille Laplace (Alt(r)a Voce).
Filmography : Un faux roman sur la vie d’Arthur Rimbaud, 2021
ch…, 2020
La pomme chinoise, 2019
Trivial poème, 2017
La Place du sujet, 2012.