Cabourg Evening, what preparation!

Sometimes we forget (never for very long) the evocative strength of cinema. In the manner of a good book, added to that the image which adds realism and veracity to the topic, the whole power of a film resides in this fact that it can, in the blink of an eye, involve us in the place of its actors and make us live their lives. For the second consecutive year, the Cabourg Film festival and FIFO have decided to unite their artistic offerings through exchange evenings where the films from one are shown to the public of the other and vice versa (a Polynesian evening during the Cabourg Film Festival with a “Window to the Pacific” which presents FIFO’s prize and the screening in Tahiti of award-winning films in Cabourg).

The programming for the Cabourg Evening 2012 was a tricky choice. A light-hearted and quirky short film was required to compensate for the harshness of ‘La Guerre est déclarée’ (War is Declared). There was a war indeed, a war against illness to be precise,  the cancer of an 18 month old…And the magic of cinema worked fittingly: after having smiled and laughed watching ‘Prochainement sur vos écrans’ (Next on Your Screens) by Fabrice Maruca, Swann d’or of the short film section at the Cabourg Film Festival 2011with distinction, the whole room (or at least a good part) could relate to the screen, identifying one hundred percent with the parents of this very young child who is now balancing swinging between life and death. In such a short amount of time their life has been turned upside down…And they fought for so many years. They had to be strong, loving and solid. How would you and I manage such a situation? How would we brave such news, such a test? Would we be strong enough together to overcome it? How do you live with an ill child? All of these questions remain unanswered at the end of the screening, like those three little suspension points which speak volumes about the issues that good, true, humane, sensitive as well as poetic films impose …

Romeo and Juliet on the screen, Adam’s parents, are deeply sincere. How could it be otherwise when we know that they are replaying the film that they have already actually experienced? Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm are in fact the real parents of Gabriel (alias Adam), now in good health. They play themselves here in order to share their story, probably with the principal objective of giving hope the priority that it deserves, and also most probably to bring a very lucid view of this test in life, of which we are all at risk.

No dwelling on the dark side, no pity, simply a valid plunge into the everyday life of these families who unite when confronted with illness, ignore their differences, their hard feelings, accept to compromise with each other’s humour and sensitivity with the one and only objective to improve the days of the ill child surrounded by scanners, MRI, sterile rooms and who has already had to face the death of friends from the ward….As the scenes progress, the love of the parents declines. Even if they have now separated and each have new lives, Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm, co-screen-writers, succeeded remarkably in reviving their love for the film and take us with them to face the news and disillusions that they tackled during these long months of illness.

It took five years for Adam’s remission to be complete. It all began with ‘Juliette, I don’t think that our child is normal’… If these few words send shivers down your spine you have understood that feelings are tested to their limit throughout the film and praise is justified. It is easy to understand why it won the Cabourg Festival prize and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Eyes were moist and tissues passed around and at the exit, the atmosphere was like lead. Everyone needed time to recover…The opportunity to prepare for the week to come.

Manon Hericher