Christine Angot, director of “A Family”: “It sometimes takes violence, including in the cinema, to make things happen”

After thirty years of an ongoing literary career, haunted by the figure of incest of which she was a victim as a teenager, Christine Angot returns to the cinema, with an intimate documentary which examines her family through the sieve of this crime and its painful explanation. Violent, unfair, tortured, ultimately overwhelming, A Family reveals Angot to the burning and grace of incarnation.

Your film is so explosive that we strongly wonder about its consultation and therefore its writing. How did you think about it?

The very first thing was the return to Strasbourg – the city where I came at 13 with my mother to discover my father – on the occasion of the promotion of my book Le Voyage dans l’Est [Flammarion , 2021] . I had refused to go back there for fifteen years. There, I accept, and I immediately tell myself that I must not go alone. That you have to bring a camera. It is obvious. Besides, a few years ago, I had already thought that this story, of incest, was not seen. It is treated, commented on, told, scripted, but it is not seen.

Was the idea to take a camera with the intention, already, of filming the scene of the meeting with your father’s wife?

No. I do not think about it. This is so as not to be alone in Strasbourg. I wanted someone else to see at the same time as me. So I asked cinematographer Caroline Champetier to accompany me. A priori, to make a somewhat classic documentary on a writer’s tour, with a voice-over which would explain the issues. I probably would have gotten tired of it pretty quickly. One morning we plan to make some plans of the city and the European Parliament, then we go in front of this house, near where my father’s wife still lives, to make some plans there. I met this woman late, at 28, with her children, my brother and sister, because my father did not want me to know his family for a very long time. I saw her sometimes, but once I started to be published, she no longer wanted to respond to my requests. So, I swear to you, the taxi was instructed to wait for us five minutes, I was without illusions and, there, I pressed the bell despite everything, and the door opened.

She physically opposes this intrusion and being filmed, you force entry, and the confrontation takes place. What you are really trying to extort from him are the reasons for his silence. Don’t you think, however, that each of us must live with the idea that others may not be concerned by our misfortune?

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