Like Stone Lions at the Gateway into Night

Year2012 Duration87 min. DirectorOlivier Zuchuat PhotographyOlivier Zuchuat EditorOlivier Zuchuat SoundVincent Montrobert, Denis Séchaud Production Pierre-Alain Meier, Xavier Carniaux, Prince Film SA, AMIP, Les Films du Mélangeur, Periplus, RTS Radio Télévision Suisse


2012 Prix du jury oecuménique, DOK Leipzig / 2012 Visions du reel - Nyon. Compétition internationale / 2012 DOK Leipzig Compétition internationale / 2012 Journée de Soleure– Panorama / 2012 Escales Documentaires - Festival International du documentaire de création de La Rochelle. Compétition internationale / 2012 Ethnologie & Cinéma, XVIes rencontres autour du film ethnographique (Grenoble) / Aux écrans du reel, Festival de films documentaires - Le Mans / Périphérie - Les rencontres du cinéma documentaire de Montreuil / Hors format (Rennes) / 2013 Prix du Jury, Festival du film méditerranéen de Tétouan / 2013 Cinemed, 35e Festival international du cinéma méditerranéen de Montpellier. Compétition internationale

A poet from the film says The word sky was stolen from us, similar to the title that heads the ISLANDS programme with Cortázar’s verse in his  Shipwrecked on an Island: I cannot say night. We are on the prison islands, one of the most tragic purposes of the islands, and more specifically, on Makronisos (Greece) where over 80,000 Greek citizens were imprisoned in what were known as re-education camps between 1947 and 1950 to fight "against the expansion of Communism". Night and the sky were forbidden in cells where the prisoners slept crammed together using their fists as a makeshift pillow. Many writers and poets were among those deported, including Yannis Ritsos and Tassos Livaditis, people who could not help savouring the smell of thyme on the island despite arriving on the island with their hands tied. In spite of the hardship and torture, they were able to write verses on their life in this camp. What remains of a man when he does not even have the saliva to lick a stamp on a letter to his mother? The film is traced in these texts, like bottles thrown into the sea hidden among the rocks and awaiting a future hand to rescue them. The camera moves in slow motion, covering the ruins of the horror. It is a film that jumps ahead of Adorno’s question, whether poetry is possible after Auschwitz. Here the question is whether it is possible during Auschwitz. 

Olivier Zuchuat

(Geneva, Switzerland, 1969)

After studying Theoretical Physics and Literature, he directed various theatre texts by Bertolt Brecht and Heiner Müller and worked as a playwright. In 1999-2000, he was assistant to Matthias Langhoff. Since 2000, he has been fully devoted to film. He worked as a film professor at Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée University between 2006 and 2011 and currently teaches at La Fémis. In addition to directing his own films, he has worked as an editor in a dozen documentary or fiction films or video-installations. He lives and works between France and Switzerland.


Dollar, Tobin, FMI, Nasdag et les autres (2000)
Mah Damba Cissoko, une griotte en exil (codirijo con 7 codirected with Corinne Maury (2002)
Djourou, une corde à ton cou (2004)
Installer l’anxiété (Martin Crimp - Thomas Ostermeier) (2008)
Au loin des villages (2008)

Promoted by
Gobierno de Navarra
Organized by
With the aid of
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales Acción Cultural Española Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia Financiado por la Unión Europea. NexGenerationEU

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