• French Competition

Kitâb al-isfâr: Book of the Journey

“What remains of emotions, dreams, desires when one disappears?” The film opens with this line from J.M.G. Le Clézio, written over a silent backwash of waves, against the light. These words are to irrigate the quest and its journey. At once a real and an inner voyage, stemming from an experience with death that shook director Baba Hillman to the core almost forty years ago, on a car crash, on the way to Malaga. How can one embrace the visions of such a catastrophic jolt, how can one express the upheaval and the mystical experience that followed? The film progresses step by step, like a diary of questions raised by encounters, first in Spain, then bouncing from Paris to Norway, from the United States to Scotland, places that are brought up in bits and pieces, highlighted by the sensuality of 8 and 16 mm. Added to that are snatches of voices, that of Denis Gril, a specialist of Sufi mysticism, or that of artist Mary Bauermeister. The perspective of this spiritual quest is that of incompleteness, a gathering of scattered fragments, resonating with each other, like a stammering thought in search of itself. This fragile and patchy interval plays with gaps and chasms in the undercurrent of words, punctuated with images that have been returned to their silence or with black screens, as so many breaches and thresholds. This gesture of generous concern offers a film composed like a poem, inspired by the words of master of Sufi mysticism, poet and philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi, the author of Kitab al-Isfar: The Secrets of Voyaging, who wrote that “The journey only has true meaning if it brings a new beginning. Traveling, the heart becomes the goal of the journey.” (N.F.)

Baba Hillman

  • French Competition

Technical sheet

France / 2020 / Color and B&W, 16 mm, 8 mm, Stereo / 58’

Original version : Arabic, French, English, Spanish.
Subtitles : English.
Script : Baba Hillman.
Photography : Baba Hillman.
Editing : Baba Hillman.
Sound : Baba Hillman.
Casting : Denis Gril, Mary Bauermeister, Ximena Kilroe, Sidi Saïd.
Production : Baba Hillman.
Distribution : Baba Hillman.