With “La Rivière”, Dominique Marchais, filmmaker, creates an original green work

With “La Rivière”, Dominique Marchais, filmmaker, creates an original green work


Among the overproduction of environmental films, Dominique Marchais traces a path that belongs only to him. Far from militant slogans or apocalyptic sensationalism. A gentle, stubborn, discreetly elegiac path, seeking, in their beauty as in their ugliness, to restore a historical, economic and aesthetic understanding of our landscapes as close as possible to those who work and study them. From his method – which combines the journey and the dialogue, a sort of Reverie of the solitary walker accompanied – have emerged, in fifteen years, four documentaries which have found each other as they progress.

Le Temps des graces (2010) provides an overview of the soils and subsoils in France, transformed into desert by intensive agriculture. The Watershed (2014) surveys part of the Loire watershed, to note that the dead water produced by the dams interrupts the flow of living water and undermines the diversity of living things. Under the banner of the “common good”, No Man is an Island (2017) finally leaves for Europe (Italy, Switzerland, Austria), to meet experimenters who are trying new paths on microterritories. cultivation, exploitation, construction, in accordance with the environment. The River – awarded the Jean Vigo prize – returns today to the waterways, along the paradisiacal Gaves of Béarn flowing towards the Atlantic, in which all life insidiously becomes rarer and where no water will soon be left than the name.

It is thus, beneath its gentleness, a work which quietly despairs. A work about a world that has disappeared, conscious of arriving too late, uncertain that another more livable one will replace it. This persistence in sticking to it, however, raises the question, to speak as in his films, of the upstream and downstream of his inspiration. It does not make sense, in fact, to have thrown oneself into it, nor to pursue it. Questioning Dominique Marchais about its origins allows us to better understand the initial movement. Born in 1972 in Dreux (Eure-et-Loir), youngest of five children, raised in Marchezais in Eure-et-Loir, he comes, through his father, from a family of grain traders, and, through his mother, small farmers. “Marchezais has one hundred and fifty inhabitants, in a region that no one knows what exactly it is, between Ile-de-France, Normandy and Beauce,” he says.

“We work off-camera, the invisible”

His work, in this regard, first mourns the landscapes of his childhood, devastated by “the multiplication of housing estates, the disappearance of farms, the enlargement of plots, the scarcity of birds, insects and snails after the rain “ . At the same time, “waiting for the bus in Marchezais was a bit like finding yourself like Cary Grant in Death by the Bags, he says with the ease of the film buff he quickly became. “Living there as a child was experiencing solitude. I threw myself into cinema, literature, rock. One of the greatest events of my life was the arrival of VHS. »

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