Navarra Film Library hosts another Foco Punto de Vista session at 8pm on Thursday 26th November. On this occasion, the title has been chosen by the L´Atalante Bayonne film programmers, with whom the Punto de Vista Festival enjoys a film exchange in parallel with the twinning of the two cities. The film that those responsible for films in Bayonne will screen in our city is the documentary Pas de nostalgie, camarades (France, 2015). A special session has been organised, which will be attended by its director, the French filmmaker, Isabelle Solas, and Simon Blondeau, Bayonne film representative who has visited us for this purpose on previous occasions.
Director and camerawoman trained at the Lussas Doc School, Isabelle Solas has made short films: Dorsale sur le proche atlantique (2006), Déviation (2009), 4 (2007) and En un temps suspendu (2012). She has also directed medium-length films: Voisins, Rencontres et jardins cachés (2009), La Presqu’île (2010) and Anastasie, portrait documentaire (2011); as well as full-length films: Inventaire (2008) and Avoir 15 ans sur le Plateau (2012).
Pas de nostalgie, camarades portrays the headquarters of the Bordeaux trade unions, known as the House of the People. Although this building appears to be in a state of sleep, forgotten by all, the militants discuss and question how to keep their union struggle alive within its walls. The City Council is working on its refurbishment, but at what price? Not waiting for a response, a group of impatient and active artists slip inside its walls, dreaming of new possibilities. With this film, Isabelle Solas confirms her weakness for enclosed and abandoned spaces, seen in her previous films, such as Dorsale sur le proche Atlantique, Inventaire and En un temps suspendu.
The film exchange between Punto de Vista and L´Atalante (two names which also pay tribute to Jean Vigo’s films) will be rounded off on 26th January with the screening of Le complexe de la Salamandra (Stéphane Manchematin and Serge Steyer, 2014), chosen by the artistic director, Oskar Alegria, to return Bayonne’s film visit.
How and when did you decide to film this story?
I decided to do so five years ago, when I realised that the building was not shut down and there was actually life inside it.
This film comes about after having made a short film (En un temps suspendu, 2013) on the same theme. Why did you decide to tell the same story in films of different lengths?
I had a film idea and I thought it was going to be a medium-length film, lasting around 40 minutes. The short film was made with a local television channel, which asked me to shoot 16 minutes at the most.
I was forced to adapt to this extension so I had to write again in order to get some more budget and continue working on the longer version. In the end, I made the full-length film with a different television channel.
The short film offers a more historic view. It tells of the political inheritance of the place, whereas the full-length film represents the perspective of a present with many ambiguities between the trade union and the City Council. There is a vast area of empty space between them.
In your other works, such as Atlantique, Inventaire or En un temps suspend, you also filmed in enclosed, abandoned spaces. What do these derelict spaces suggest to you?
I can’t explain it easily. I think it is an optical instinct of my desire to create images, but I also believe there is a somewhat naive idea of breathing new life into spaces that are practically dead. The truth is that the aesthetics of this kind of spaces fascinate me.
What value does the passing of time give to your films?
This is the main theme of my films and is also a major concern for all filmmakers. Film, particularly documentaries, is devoted to recording a present moment so that it does not slip by. It is a gesture of life but also of memory. It is also a gesture of concern…
In Spain, the new social movements related to 15-M seem to have won the social struggle against the unions. How is the union struggle in France?
I think the union movement needs ideas and imagination. The way of speaking, the classic stance of the unions is no longer heard, but they are defending important rights.
Does the union movement need to be revamped like the building in your film?
In the film, the refurbishment of the building is also a trick, because it is the power from outside, that of the French right-wing, who is trying to enter the "temple of the unions” to claim the building as its own and transform it into a “heritage” site, or in other words, a museum. It would be easier for them to say that the workers’ fight is a thing of the past.
The solution will come from opening the doors to other social movements, to other generations of militants and, in my humble opinion, through curiosity in terms of culture: in films, music... That’s why I made two “fictional” scenes with the night-time projection and another with the band that plays inside this huge, empty hall.
In the film, artistic militancy joins forces with social militancy. Do you think that art should have a political and/or social weight? Do you think that this has been the case in the 20th century?
I am not sure if it was really so, but the convergence of different fights is an intelligent way of going a step further, of uniting different generations, of touching the feelings of people as well as speeches..... It´s a clue!