• Other gems


Maxime Martinot

Maxime Martinot
“One day, on the coasts of Morocco, some one hundred and fifty years ago, thousands of antelopes threw themselves into the sea.” Thus begins a two-page text from a special issue of Les Cahiers du Cinema guest edited by Marguerite Dumas in June 1980. The author of the beautiful Trois Histoires de Borges (FID 2014) as well as of some recent polemical pieces, Maxime Martinot mobilises this cryptic prose, an animal fable whose argument remains elusive, and illustrates it, literally, with images of antelopes running wild. In so doing he shines, scathingly as well as elegantly, a contemporary light on current political events.
(Jean-Pierre Rehm)

Interview with Maxime Martinot

The first part of your film is built around a text by Marguerite Duras. Could you tell us more about this text, and why you wanted to adapt it ?

I came across Marguerite Duras’s text and it immediately appealed to me. It’s a text that she wrote in the Cahiers du Cinéma, for the issue of which she was chief editor
(Les Yeux verts, which was later published as a book). What is beautiful is the impossibility of knowing whether this story of huge numbers of antelopes rushing to
their death was true or not : I did not want to know whether or not it’s a legend. There’s something pertaining both to the scientific report and the lyrical poem,
something of the fable or the legend. I enjoyed not choosing between the two, and this mysterious tension is what struck me the most. I kept the text in mind, and I wanted to record it, because it’s very short and very beautiful in its language, less dry and elliptical than other texts by Duras. It’s almost classical, but also very modern in its brevity. I wanted to record it simply to be able to hear it. At first, I wanted to use it with « neutral » images of nature documentaries, but instead, I used it in Histoire de la révolution, my previous film. Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, which brought with it its police images shot by drones, I recalled these images shot by drones in nature documentaries or by hunters on youtube and reminded me of the initial idea, of these antelopes running to escape the drones. They are images from documentaries about nature, but they are oppressive : we get the impression that the antelope runs to escape the drone rather than an actual predator. These images resonated with the drones surveilling Paris, with these images of a completely empty Paris, as in a fantasy of surveillance. I did wonder whether it was lazy to readapt the same text, but in the end no, I buildt another film around the text, and used another take. It’s a film that I consider as a ciné-tract, a form I like a lot and that I still consider very much relevant, in which a lot of things can still be done. We move from the fable to current events, from eternity to contemporaneity. It's a very big temporal tension in a very short film.

A striking sequence is built around shots of antelopes being hunted. Could you explain the link between these images and the ones seen in the rest of the film ?

I wanted to make the theme explicit : I consider drone imagery as an imagery of hunting, but not everyone does. It’s a generalisation, but it corresponds to my point of
view on these images. For me, they are the same type of images : as if the ultimate end of a drone image necessarily leads to the act of killing. Fatally, it always leads
back to a police image.

In parallel to the text about the french political situation, you also include images of Chile and of Black Lives Matter protests. Why this parallel between the different political situation ?

I made the film last year, so I finished it around May 2020. Castaner was still Minister of the Interior. I haven't brought it up to date since, but there has been the
Global Security Law (allowing for the use of drone surveillance and making it harder for citizens to publish images of the police, translator's note)… The idea is still to leave from afar and lead to today. And as it's a ciné-tract, it has to lead to a call to struggle. These images, of Chile and Black Lives Matter, show people who have, individually or collectively, found technical solutions to face drones. It’s legally dangerous to do so, but it's a call to struggle. As for moving from the animal metaphor to images of concrete struggles, when you read Duras, you fatally think of what is shared between antelopes and humans : this migration, this impulse to move, to move forward for reasons of life or death… Duras talks about death and suicide in her text, but there is also a strong relation to the vital impulse. An irrepressible movement of struggle and collective coherence.

Interview by Nathan Letoré

  • Other gems

Technical sheet

France / 2021 / 9’

Original Version : French.
Subtitles : English.
Script : Maxime Martinot.
Photography : Maxime Martinot.
Editing : Maxime Martinot.
Sound : Victor Praud.
Production : Quentin Brayer (Don Quichotte Films).
Filmography : Histoire de la révolution, 2019. La Disparition, 2018. Trois contes de Borges, 2014. Return to Providence, 2016.