×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Journal de France

A tribute to a masterful eye, a humanistic heart and a wondrous life, "Journal" is a natural for docu fests and Euro satcasts.

With:
Narrator: Claudine Nougaret.

While legendary French cameraman Raymond Depardon discovers his home country, collaborator Claudine Nougaret sifts through his backlog of footage from around the world in their joint docu “Journal de France.” The title is something of a misnomer, since “Journal of the Second Half of the 20th Century” would be more accurate, considering Depardon’s knack for capturing history in the making since 1960. A tribute to a masterful eye, a humanistic heart and a wondrous life, “Journal” is a natural for docu fests and Euro satcasts.

For four years Depardon traveled on and off around France, shooting photographs with a large-format plate camera in the lead-up to an exhibition, “La France,” which opened in 2010. His subjects tended to be places likely to disappear in the next decade, the kinds of slightly down-at-the-heels mom-and-pop tobacconists, cafes, barbershops and the like, where little seems to have changed for 40 years. It was an opportunity for the man to discover his native land in the same way he looked at the world, with an eye for the quintessence of a locale at a particular moment.

Popular on Variety

Depardon’s first foreign footage was lensed during riots in Venezuela when he was 21; subsequent trips from the mid-1960s honed his “listening and looking” method, which synthesizes his philosophy of reportage. In the coming decades he crisscrossed the planet, shooting French mercenaries in Biafra (chilling), the Soviet invasion of Prague (tragic) and rebels in Chad (stunning and disturbing). His camera recorded people and events with a seemingly passive eye that conveys in its directness a sympathy for the downtrodden, the unprotected and anyone awakening from those states to a new sense of determination.

There’s also the opposite, such as footage of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, years before crowning himself emperor of the Central African Republic. Perhaps it’s all in the eye of the viewer, however: Those unaware of the horrors wrought by that most extravagant of African dictators may watch these scenes with nothing but the illusionary sense of promise so many images of 1960s Africa convey.

By the mid-’70s, Depardon became equally interested in political animals at home, shooting a documentary on the French presidential race of Valerie Giscard d’Estaing (who successfully barred its release, unhappy with the p.o.v.). In subsequent years the subjects became more varied, encompassing civil wars, broken-down mental health services, the French judicial system: anything that spoke of the disenfranchised and the institutions that controlled their lives.

Intercut with the found footage are scenes of Depardon’s French excursions and the story of his collaboration with Nougaret, his longtime sound engineer. Both remain fascinated by the world around them (recent images from Chad’s Djourab desert are breathtaking), leaving auds to ruminate on the good fortune — for him and the viewer — of artistic lives actively engaging with the world. Music is beautifully chosen.

Journal de France

France

Production: A Palmeraie et Desert, France 2 Cinema production, with the participation of France Televisions, Canal Plus, Cinecinema, CNC, in association with Wild Bunch. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Executive producer, Claudine Nougaret. Directed, written by Claudine Nougaret, Raymond Depardon.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, widescreen, 35mm-to-HD, 16-to-HD, Super 8-to-HD), Depardon; editor, Simon Jacquet; sound (Dolby Digital), Nougaret, Guillaume Sciama, Yolande Decarsin, Gerard Lamps. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Special Screenings), May 22, 2012. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Narrator: Claudine Nougaret.

More Film

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    APA Reaches Deal With Writers Guild of America

    APA has reached a deal with the Writers Guild of America, ending a nine-month standoff over allowing the agency to represent guild members. The full-service agency made the announcement Tuesday, four days after the Gersh agency signed a similar deal with the WGA. It’s the sixth mid-size agency to accede to the WGA’s bans on [...]

  • UTA Sundance

    UTA Marketing Ups Sundance Game With Private Residence, Programming

    Talent agency hospitality is a mainstay at the Sundance film Festival, be it in swanky lounges on Park City’s Main Street or private chalets in nearby Deer Valley. United Talent Agency, whose talent roster and independent film group always come in force each year, typically throws a brunch for friends and press — but will [...]

  • Joel Silver

    Silver Pictures Settles with Family of Assistant Who Died on Bora Bora Trip

    Silver Pictures has reached a confidential settlement with the family of Carmel Musgrove, the assistant to Joel Silver who was found dead in a Bora Bora lagoon in 2015. Musgrove’s family filed a wrongful death suit in 2017, alleging that she had been overworked and furnished with drugs and alcohol during the trip. The family [...]

  • David O. Russell

    David O. Russell Looks at 'Three Kings' 20 Years Later

    When David O. Russell made “Three Kings” in 1999, it was one of the most definitive films on the Gulf War. At the time, the director had worked on shorts “Hairway to the Stars” and “Bingo Inferno: A Parody on American Obsessions.” He had also worked on features “Spanking the Monkey” and “Flirting with Disaster.” [...]

  • Metoo Sundance The Glorias Zola On

    #MeToo Issues Continue to Make an Impact on Sundance Films

    If there were any doubts that the impact of sexual-harassment exposés­­ and backlash against them had died down, Oprah Winfrey put them to rest when she withdrew her name (and Apple’s distribution) from “On The Record,” a film about allegations against music execs Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid — just two weeks before its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Variety reached out to Winfrey and the [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan

    Harvey Weinstein's Request to Move Trial Out of NYC Is Denied (Again)

    An appeals court denied the second request from Harvey Weinstein’s legal team to move his trial out of New York City on Tuesday. Weinstein’s attorneys asked the Appellate Division last week to move the trial to Albany or Suffolk County, arguing it is impossible for him to get a fair trial due to the “carnival-like [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content