• First Film Competition  
  • French Competition


Camille Llobet

The Mont-Blanc massif with its glaciers, its walls. A well-known landscape? But what is a landscape? Perhaps, first and foremost, it’s a perspective, a physical experience, knowledge, and words. In three chapters and three places, three “dialogues – interpretations of the field” come one after another. Camille Llobet’s approach is to bring words to life from the high mountains, gathering together the informed and specialised knowledge of a geomorphologist and mountain guides to question sensitive perceptions, to express the singularity of a passage, a texture or the thawing of the permafrost. From bodies to words, from images to sounds, we find ourselves not facing but with and in the landscape, a complex and fragile landscape that’s evolving, which she meticulously films as an organic, rumbling entity. Scanning the surfaces, listening for echoes, attentive to the slightest traces, to which the “pacheû” of the title refers. Magnificent shots roll out a perspective between the beauty of snow-covered slopes or raw mineral mass, their tactile, vibrant presence, and the jolts of transformation with its brutal expressions because of climate change… the cracking of rocks, the untimely melting… These sudden upheavals call into question what we already know, and demand a new way of paying attention and listening to this changing environment in order to read the signs. To pay attention and listen is what Camille Llobet invites us to do.

Nicolas Feodoroff

As an artist and video-maker, your work explores questions of translation, of language, of reproduction and perception. How did this project come about?  

Until now, I’ve worked on video forms based on experiences filmed in indoor spaces. The people are removed from the world to focus on protocols to transcribe a perception directly by bringing into play orality, gesture and thought. With Pacheû, I wanted to get out of the studio and think about human beings in an environment and work on the duration and place of the narrative offered by the long form of the documentary essay.

We don’t leave the mountain top – the accounts are given in situ. Why was this important to you? 


The accounts are seen as field readings, a common form of exchange in the mountains, descriptive dialogues in front of the landscapes they’re looking at and therefore only filmed at a high altitude. The voices, tinged with a flinty resonance or muffled by the snow, describe the mountain off-camera. What’s more, the final dialogue takes place in difficult conditions (the cold, the light and the wind), the characters are hidden, bundled up in their specialised clothing, but they meet each other during my shoot, during this dialogue in front of the scar of the collapsed Trident du Tacul, and this principle conditions their discussion and their memories. 

Moving from the narrative to what we see, after the fact, is reminiscent of some of your previous films. What interested you about this for the film? 

There’s the mountain as described, where the landscape can only be imagined because no images illustrate what’s being said. We can only mentally visualise what these people are saying as they look and describe. In parallel, I wanted to film this environment by comprehending it through the gestures that touch, move and traverse this unstable matter and these vertical shapes to carve out a pacheû, a possible path. These experimental shoots led to strolls in the high mountains, an unusual pace in this environment where you have to keep to the timetable and the walking target. Then there are the shots of the mountain, which I reframed to get away from the horizon and the summit, giving a series of still, silent sequence shots to give time and movement back to the perspective. 

How did you choose the characters? How did you work with them? 

First, there was Laurent and Mathias. The seed for this project was sown fifteen years ago when I met these mountain guides in the kitchen of a refuge where I worked one summer. It’s a place where they spend time and tell stories. I began researching in 2020 in the Mont Blanc Massif where I live, as part of an artist’s residence connected to the Les Contamines (the Compagnie de ses guides de Saint Gervais). I wanted to film them in this milieu, their milieu, imagining the visuals in terms of audio, kinaesthetic and tactile sensations. During these experiments, I forged working friendships with some of the guides. Then there’s Damien, a close friend who gave me a hand throughout the project and became one of the film’s characters. He’s neither a professional nor a mountaineer, and crosses these steep, rugged areas like a child clambering over rocks. We leave behind the relationship of conquering summits, the technicality and the sporting challenge, and find ourselves back in the midst of matter. Damien’s unique proprioceptive sense and intrepid, humble freedom reveal a different way of thinking about the mountains. And then there’s Ludovic, a geomorphologist who told me about recovering a piece of ice and dating it just after a rock fall. That story led me to finding the Italian roped party, Ilaria and Enrico, who had sensed an abnormal situation and sounded the alarm just before the event, to film this discussion about the mountain’s transformation. 

And the three sites – how did you choose them? What interested you about this structure in three chapters? A different way of creating a landscape? 

The seasonal and climate conditions climate mean that things are constantly changing in high mountains, giving atmospheres and a very different presence to the rocks, the ice, the snow and the water. These variations of states and the characteristics of sound and light determined the choice of locations to experiment in, as well as the composition of the film. The names of the locations of the shoot, chosen as intertitles, are poetic clues to the representations of the mountain. The Col de la Fenêtre brings to mind contemplation, the Bassin de Talèfre evokes the immensity of its geological area and the Combe Maudite echoes the image of a hostile and haunted world that the valleys’ inhabitants had before the start of mountaineering. 

Can you tell us in more detail about your work with the sound aspect of the mountain, with its silences, the crackling, etc.? 

I’ve been working for about ten years on sound and oral language, and that’s what led me to start this project by listening for long periods to amplified sounds of mountain spaces. So the first thing we did to find the filming locations involved sound, by researching resonances and silences. The gushing torrents, the cracking ice and the rumbling rocks make up the soundtrack to this environment in perpetual motion as well as being symptoms of a changing world in climatic upheaval (the thawing permafrost, the melting glaciers, the increasing landslides). These sounds remind us that the mountain is alive and lead us back into a sensitive way of listening: “it kind of reawakens our attention” as Enrico says in the film. Giving room to the sounds, without voiceovers or additional music or post-production sound effects means giving a voice to a presence and considering the mountain as the subject.  

Interview by Nicolas Feodoroff

  • First Film Competition  
  • French Competition
18:305 July 2023Variétés 2BILLETTERIE
14:157 July 2023Artplexe 2BILLETTERIE
16:008 July 2023Variétés 2BILLETTERIE

Technical sheet

France, Spain / 2023 / 60’

Production: Camille Llobet (plastic artist)