Cécile Coulon, hussar on the roof

Cécile Coulon is a blonde who pierces the eye as much as the screen. A blonde who shoots the strange. So white that it sometimes turns blue spectrum depending on the light and mood of the girl. If she hadn’t grown up a bit, we would see the kid in the credits of Village of the damned. This angel’s head is haunted, also landed on Earth to put its grain of salt. That explains the precocity that we know about him. Cécile Coulon wrote and published her first novel at the age of 16. Twelve years later, she signs a seventh novel, A beast in paradise, which reaches 70,000 copies in six months. Cécile Coulon has something to disturb. “Yes, I have more ghosts in me than experiences. But if I’m haunted, it’s in the positive sense. I am by the voices, the stories, the landscapes of those who preceded us. I’m leading a herd of ghosts, but they’re not leading me. ” It reassures. “The maturity that I am credited with is due to the fact that I can listen to these voices before and can be silent to write them.” She says that with a small smile, always in the corner. “I smile a lot when I speak, that’s why.” She has two dimples that add to it and carve out a playful face for her, which lights up while she shares her latest find to amuse the gallery of her 16,000 Facebook friends.

The “author” – as she presents herself – has an easy and friendly post as a confinement anti-journal. From his back and forth between his windows and his computer, we can read: “Stop walking your dog, I just saw one more muscular than me!” Or to relay: “I have no chest but right now there are people on the balcony.” She doesn’t have it either. She lives in an apartment on the top floor of a building in Clermont-Ferrand. Without balcony or adjoining garden, but with the possibility of climbing onto the roof. “It is a tiled roof, not at all made for that, but since I have a window that overlooks it, I take advantage of it and it is without risk.” It reassures. “Up there, I find something to breathe, to see somewhere else, I read, it’s nice.” The great outdoors, volcanoes, lakes, biking and running are what he misses most. “But it’s just a big whim when it comes to what cashiers, garbage collectors or hospital staff are going through. I’m so lucky to be here, alone, childless, I mean, without having to take care of anyone other than myself. ” Like her body. Its firm battle silhouette with cravings for “Good wines, good beers and good cheeses”. We learn that “The saint-nectaire freezes very well” in his cooking and containment tips. “I imagine these days people are going back to cooking.” All the more reason to strengthen your daily exercises. It nuances. “I am more worried about the duration of confinement than for my figure. If I do a lot of sport, it’s more to stay in shape and not get out of it completely exhausted and hysterical. ” She practices muscular strengthening exercises without apparatus or dumbbells. One carpet is enough “To prevent the muscles from melting”. She keeps running “Once a week, preferably at night and within a very limited area”.

All around, she knows by heart. This is his land. A full nature “who does not [l’]never scared. “ She never left it. “I never thought about it, even as a teenager!” His baccalaureate in cinema and the khâgne are made in Clermont. “I live in town to be near the train station, for work, but in half an hour I can be at the top of a volcano.” She reassures herself. She assumes this attachment “not fashionable”. She travels little and in France. She doesn’t have a car, favors the train, never the plane “except when [elle est] obligated for work ”. “I have no dreams of distant countries, I am like an animal, like the badger that stays close to its burrow.” Cécile Coulon is not involved anywhere, does not campaign. “Perhaps my commitment is to stay where I am. To feed on it for my fictions, to defend my region, to say how lucky we are to have farms around us, producers who work to sell what we need to take care of ourselves and at lower cost . I campaign by doing my part here to say that the enclave is not an injustice. “

She grew up in Saint-Saturnin, a village at the foot of volcanoes, 25 kilometers from Clermont-Ferrand. She remembers a childhood “heavenly” spent working “Figolu” under the nose of his two big brothers. Her mother, director of the Saint-Nectaire appellation, and her father, an agricultural researcher at INRA, still live in the village. His “job”, as she calls it, to tell stories. She has always read. Fed early on the voices of John Fante, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Bukowski. She discovers Yourcenar and her Flanders, Marie-Hélène Lafon and her Cantal. “Suddenly, I felt less alone. They allowed me to write with my land. “ Cécile Coulon also dares to write and publish poetry. “Not fashionable either, but it is changing. Poetry is particularly deployed on social networks, where it is read and in great demand. ” She has been living from her job since 2013. Since The king is not sleepy, a success “Dizzying” for which she received her first fine copyright check. She is then 23 years old. She buys movies, sneakers, books and a small apartment in Clermont-Ferrand. She goes “eat outside” and reassures: “Since I’m not from Auvergne for nothing, I put the rest aside.”

Cécile Coulon works. The smirk applied, she apologizes for using simple words to say it and gets restless: “Besides the books, nothing happens in my life.” Since it started in a small local publishing house “To the good franquette”, since his revelation with The king is not sleepy at Viviane Hamy’s, she works, infuses, does nothing else. Even on vacation. She takes her manuscript and friends whom she willingly brings to bear. “I spent a studious week with Cécile in her family home in Drôme”, reports Myriam Lépron, a friend who is a university professor. “A week of reading, proofreading, rewriting, walks and swimming.” The author never rejoices for long. “One book is fleeting, and the next one ever played.” His entire body bears the marks. “I often get images of each of my works tattooed to keep track of them.” Whether hoisted or not on her roof, Cécile Coulon contemplates these words which she adores Bernard de Chartres and which she would stick to our skin: “We are dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants.”

June 13, 1990 Birth.

2012 The king is not sleepy.

2017 Three Storm Seasons.

2018 Brambles.

2019 A beast in paradise.

Because of the confinement, the interviews and photos of the last page portrait can be carried out remotely.

Céline Walter Photo Pascal Aimar (Fuzzy trend)


At the Berlinale, pearls of plenty

Now that the prize list has fallen, the time has come for a final review of this successful 70e Berlinale, to evoke a few films that have been able to float in the memory of the festival critic exhausted by an overflow of images, German coffee and stuffy pretzels.

Mental space

Siberia by Abel Ferrara

ITA, DEU, MEX 2020, Competition
2020 Vivo film. Maze pictures. Piano

Siberia of Abel Ferrara. Vivo film. Maze pictures. Piano

Let’s start with an aberration, which we cannot say whether we like it or not, one of the most awaited films of the competition which created an almost general perplexity: Siberia by Abel Ferrara. It is a series of enigmatic visions and encounters experienced by an American, Clint (Willem Dafoe), running a bar in the middle of Siberia. Memories, dreams, nightmarish or mystical apparitions are linked together in this trip where we guess the clear influence of Andrei Tarkovski. Many critics found the film grotesque, and most of the spectators in the very large room of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, where we saw it, had apparently chosen to consider that they were facing a comedy. We do not hide the fact that certain situations or ideas made us smile and that it is quite difficult to genuinely adhere to this mystical-psychoanalytic peregrination in which Ferrara immerses us in the obscure depths of his imagination. But, in addition to the fact that the film arouses in us the sympathy of unclassifiable and netless objects, it is undeniable that the one who produced it is a real filmmaker, who knows how to create singular images, invent a complex mental space or seize us by a simple connection between two planes. And in a festival where there are so many films in one day, sometimes of great platitude or shapeless blistering, this Siberia so mocked at least had the audacity to explore in its own way nothing less than the twists and turns of cinematic time and space, through those of dream and memory.

Malmkrog by Cristi Puiu

ROU, SRB, CHE, SWE, BIH, MKD 2020, Encounters

Malmkrog by Cristi Puiu. Mandragora

It is in a completely different way that we recognize a strong sense of duration and framework in the long, complex and sometimes sumptuous shots that constitute Malmkrog (presented in the Encounters section), the new film by Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu (discovered in 2005 with the extraordinary the Death of Dante Lazarescu). Shots that are not just the result of a skill in framing and photographing, but that are constantly tended by life and the words that unfold therein. Adapting texts from the Russian philosopher and poet Vladimir Soloviev, this 3:20 am film takes place in a unique place: a mansion in Transylvania where Nikolai, a large landowner, welcomes Christmas friends of aristocrat friends, of different nationalities. Between meals and board games, their main activity consists in sharing their visions of the world, essentially in French, around subjects as big as death, progress, religion, morals. We think of Manoel de Oliveira, with less humor although the film is not devoid of fantasy and strangeness. You can get lost in conversations but it is the very word that matters, the need to keep talking, to think out loud even if it turns out to be increasingly complex and perilous.

Rizi | Days by Tsai Ming-Liang

TWN 2019, Competition
Homegreen Films

Days from Tsai Ming-liang. Homegreen Films

Days by Tsai Ming-liang (in competition) marks the return to fiction after seven years of absence (since stray dogs, in 2013) from another great filmmaker of the plan, of their slow deployment over time. He is equal to himself in his new film where, far from Puiu’s talks, almost no words are spoken. Again, he becomes attached to solitudes that will eventually intersect. In the countryside, a man (Lee Kang-sheng, the filmmaker’s favorite actor since his first film) with tired and slow gestures, seems to be bored and suffering physically, requiring baths, massages and acupuncture sessions; in the city, a younger man, on the contrary, is distinguished by the dexterity of his gestures, especially when he is washing food and cooking it. In the montage that shows them evolving in parallel, elements visible in almost every plane already unite them: water, fire, plants, present in many forms. The film is tied to the meeting of the two men where, for the time of a sensual and then sexual massage, the skillful hands of the first relieve the tired body of the second, until enjoyment. It is very clear and very beautiful, no offense to the impatient.


Domangchin yeoja | The Woman Who Ran | Die Frau, die rannte by Hong Sangsoo

The Woman Who Ran from Hong Sang-soo. Jeonwonsa Film Co. Production

In Hong Sang-soo, the precision and rigor of the plans is not as obvious as in Puiu or Tsai. The Korean filmmaker, who claims Rohmer’s influence, again appears in The Woman Who Ran (presented in competition) a lightness and a simplicity that the frames, panoramas or zooms scrutinize with acuity but without will to artificially embellish their obviousness. A young woman (the magnificent filmmaker’s muse Kim Minhee) takes advantage of her husband’s business trip to visit three former friends. Through their conversations mixing very concrete and material subjects – the price of things, neighborhood problems, food, vegetarianism -, Hong deals in his own way with very contemporary questions, with a humor that gradually turns to melancholy . Ultimately, this film in which the few men who appear are troublesome and essentially filmed from behind, evokes a certain female solitude, chosen or suffered. To cold surveillance camera shots, Hong sets his gaze on the lookout, available to prodigious chances, such as this camera movement which reveals a perfectly placed and attentive cat at the end of a long shot where the stake of the conversation was precisely the presence of cats in the vicinity. A plan so miraculous that it sparked applause in an entire room of criticism in Berlin.

In the recesses of the parallel selections, a few films with modest means made, like Hong Sang-soo, of their economic poverty an engine of freshness and vitality. In Boarding (Panorama section), the new film by Guillaume Brac, declared admirer of the Korean filmmaker, we follow the summer getaway of two friends going to find in the Drôme the conquest of an evening of one of them. As in July tales (2018), Brac turns again with young actors from the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art, rediscovering something of the adventurous spirit of Jacques Rozier’s films but by matching it to the languages, cultures and customs of a very contemporary youth . As always with Brac, under his apparent humility the film is precise and dense, in addition to being funny and extremely endearing.

Magnifying glass

In Isabella (presented to Encounters), the Argentinian Matías Piñeiro films another friendly adventure, but coupled with an ambiguous rivalry. Two young theater actresses apply for the same role, that of Isabella in Measure for measure of William Shakespeare, while the brother of one is the lover of the other. It is a film about envy, in the double sense of the word – desire and jealousy – where the Rivetian play with the theater is made more complex (something new in Piñeiro) by a play with chronology and a formalism which sometimes leads to on an abstraction of colors and shapes. A captivating and confusing film that will perhaps be enjoyed above all by those who already know Piñeiro’s cinema, all the elements of which (theater, friendship, acting, speech) are here reorganized in a more free and mysterious way.

Finally, one of the great discoveries of the festival was A metamorfose dos pássaros, the first feature by Portuguese catarina Vasconcelos (presented at Encounters), shot for less than 100,000 euros. It is a biography of the filmmaker’s own family, of his grandparents and parents, reconstituted in beautiful fine-line shots essentially framing gestures, objects, photographs, and playing on materials, colors, simple visual effects (the recurrent use of a magnifying glass, for example) while voiceovers follow one another to evoke moments in the life of each. Imagine a Cavalier film filmed by Manoel de Oliveira (still him) to get an idea of ​​the beauty and originality of this minimalist and poetic family novel. The kind of unexpected little pearls that we always hope to find in this clutter of films that is a film festival as bloated as the Berlinale.

Marcos Uzal