the blue space between the clouds
35'17'', hd video, 5.1 sound, 2015
official selection, kathmandu international mountain film festival, nepal
i’ve never liked talking about stories of stories i tell. i’ve never liked explaining what my movies are about. because i believe they have to talk themselves. and i’m afraid to not leave you the choice to see, too understand what you’re carrying in yourself, what the movie can reveal to yourself. the japanese okakura wrote in 1906 in the tea book :
''leaving a space for the unsaid, the artist give the witness an opportunity to complete the underlying idea. there is a space we can enter and we can fill with our own aesthetic emotion.1
i believe i’ve always wanted for you to find something you care about in my movies. something that belongs to you, something that i don’t know at all. i’d like the blue space between the clouds to be a journey for you as much as it was for me. the most important is maybe not the physical movement, nor the exoticism, nor the feeling to be home no more. during my nepali days i wrote : ‘’we don’t change while we travel, we don’t become someone different. we just learn to go deep inside ourselves to find something to survive, something to not become mad’’. we finally learn how to be ourselves, we melt the stiffness of live. we learn to become soft, to adapt. to adapt to everything and to not program anything. the trail carries itself is own experience. we you look at this idea there are only two solution : trying to force it to go faster or simply letting it go. and if it takes two more days to go from kathmandu to pokhara, it’ll ive you the opportunity to meet twice more people on the way
nothing is final
there’s no hurry
every setback is the chance to meet something new
every detour the chance for a new vision
if the pictures i shot take you to a far off country and show you nepal and its inhabitants, it’s not the real topic of the movie. it doesn’t talk about customs, it doesn’t give you objective and scientific informations about the country, its history, its religions. it’s not that i don’t care about that, it’s not that i didn’t take interest about that. it’s just the project drove me somewhere else on another road i’ve accepted to follow. as avi mograbi said :
‘‘i let my movie guiding me and not my project guiding the movie’’2
i guess there is an infinity of documentaries that can give you a beautiful overview of this magical country of plains and mountains and another way to truly discover is basically to go there. one could be surprised that i left so far away and didn’t make nepal the topic of the movie. it’s simply i talk about it with covered words and in a way the movie would have never existed if the trip was in another part of the world. behind pictures, words, sounds, it’s my inner experience that speaks. nepal and my trip become then some meditative supports, pretexts to develop my ideas in a story. i often said, when i talked about my projects, my movies were entirely subjective. they talk only for me, they are made by the interpreter of my experiences. i would have taken some years to digest everything i’ve lived in this far country. highs and downs, doubts and revelations. and fundamentally, i didn’t want to talk about myself, about my daily life, nor to make a basic and uninteresting report of my nepali days. i wanted to take you further, somewhere else? to something that goes beyond the borders an our personal lives. in one word and to be clear : i didn’t -nor even tried to- make a documentary movie.
when i introduced my project 馬 to officials of the prison service of insertion of manche, i had to face an incomprehension. in march 2014, i was lucky enough to participate to an art workshop at the prison of coutances. i made a short film about it. at the first sight, it seems to talk about something else, references to penitentiary universe are erased, invisible in the pictures, invisibles in the sounds or the voice-over. it’s only the conversation between a man and a woman talking about cave drawing and the beginning of arts. philosophical debate about the taming of the world and the freedom of men. the first comment i’ve heard was that i could have shot this movie anywhere else. they assumed i was out of my subject because no clear references to the prison was made. i believe this assumption was a mistake. you have to look beyond the Japanese incrustations of pictures and sounds, beyond the words. i could never have developed this movie and all the topics inside if hadn’t participate to that workshop, i would never have thought to call kurosawa without some of the discussion we had with the men who were there, designing a fresco. i would never have thought to link the quest of liberty with arts if i had never seen these men locked, to whom we refuse the status of human being, acquiring liberty by painting. This is the moment i understood the importance of making, the importance of doing something concrete for a man in his life. The worst dimension of prisons is not the locking part, first of all it’s the absence of possibility to be alone and then the absence of concrete things to do.
i don’t believe a movie have do be the subjective report of an experience. i live this experience alone and i don’t have the desire to give it to you in its raw form. because it wouldn’t have any reason to be in that particular shape. it was only valuable for me, at some definite point, a definite time, in a definite state of mind and i’m not able to transcript it into audiovisual language. but what i can offer you is what it left in me, the mark, the thoughts. so, to be completely right i should stop using this word : documentary. as 馬, the blue space between the clouds is not a documentary, it’s an essay. a personal reflection brought in by wandering.
i’ve never hide the fact i didn’t know what i would shoot in nepal before the travel. How would i know when i didn’t know the country, the people i would meet, nor even what the project carried itself in terms of possibilities ? there is, in my life, a huge dimension of wandering. i move forward. without knowing where i’m going. not as someone who would be lost but as a man who prefer not to trouble himself with objectives in order to remain free and open to everything that life and road can bring. the beauty of the roaming is that it transforms every meeting into friendship, every inn into home, every shared meal brings you a new family. wandering is to no stay. knowing we’re not staying cuts the strings of attachment. it turns it into love, true and unconditional. knowing that all those people met on my way continue to walk on the same earth than i makes me happy. i dont need them to be mine. i share a present that was eternity. without the fear, never, of leaving or losing each other.
we often think wandering is being uprooted. i don’t think so. while wandering we avoid some categories. there’s no more home because home is everywhere. wandering is transcending the border. it’s becoming ourselves crossroads, market places between experiences. wandering is becoming a movement without any beginning nor end. wandering is escaping the leavings and the arrivals, it’s being no longer defined as an independent identity but as a interdependent being with the whole world. becoming movement, becoming soft. taoists philosopher often underlined that softness is the attribute of the living while dryness and hardness are linked to death.
‘‘a man is born gentle and weak.
at his death he is hard and stiff.
green plants are tender and filled with sap.
at their death they are withered and dry.
therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
the gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
a tree that is unbending is easily broken.
the hard and strong will fall.
the soft and weak will overcome.’’3
t’s maybe not a coincidence if zhuang-zi, my dearest taoist philosopher invited himself in the blue space between the clouds without i’ve waited for him. i had to go to the obvious while editing that chinese philosphy were inside me and nourished me as much as my nepali days. chris marker, my master in cinema, talked in sunless of cut in time and connections of memories. for him a movie was like a brain, he thought films would work following the same logic than the thoughts : by associations of ideas. i wrote some times ago, on a movie actually about marker :
‘‘i remember the rembling conversations with my brother when we were children, we were always amazed to start with a common subject and to finally arrive somewhere else, completely else’’.
this is how works the blue space between the clouds, it’s an empirical chain of ideas and feelings. it’s the symphony of an entire year that ran between my departure and the time where the movie found its final form. It’s all the moment i went through that give it its form. the nepal itself, the memories of it but also all that time flown while editing. i tried to give softness to that movie, as life, as water running in my mind. it’s not a documentary, it’s not a fiction, it’s not an experimental movie. you can put in the case you want. or maybe we can just let it be. let it float somewhere as a dream? or as an experience that, i hope, will also be yours as a witness. my work, i’d liked it to be a meeting between you and me, between my pictures and you, between my thought and you. i don’t try to deploy a flag which would be a truth. it’s only what i believe, fundamentally. it’s only some reflections i want to share, i want to shout too. and not only in the desert. this movie is a reaction, a reaction to the world that i don’t always understand. it’s also trying to focus on questions i think they are important during 35 minutes. trying to change the angle of vision, to think in another way. to become aware of death is to become aware of life, of its significance, of the fact we can’t lose it. at least from my point of view, everybody has the right even to not live if he wants. but my work as an author is to speak about my vision, to use the ‘’i’’ et to take his subjectivity on. and that’s what i tried to do here.
fro a long time during editing, i thought i did something wrong while shooting the movie. i thought i was not close enough to people i met, i thought i didn’t shoot enough smiles, gestures, eye-contact. maybe it’s not completely false. but the constant doubt that assailed me, telling me i didn’t succeed to transmit the meeting, was wrong. writing this text make me think about it. effectively i didn’t introduce you to aamu, prashant, malashree and the others but the meeting is maybe set elsewhere. between you and me during the screening. or between you and the movie. or between you and yourself. as i can only speak for me, you can only understand for yourself. maybe the blue space between the clouds will make something spring deep inside you. it’s what i hope.
caen, october 2015
1. okakura kakuzo, the tea book, personnal translation from french edition : picquier poche, 2006
2.avi mograbi,personnal translation from : nord-palestine.org/index.htm
3. lao-tseu, tao tö king, translation on http://terebess.hu/english/tao/gia.html.