Open Evening: meeting between peoples

Carte blancheFor the opening night of this 14th edition, the president of the jury was given free rein, Stéphane Martin is passionate about culture and travel, it was sheer pleasure for him to share his view of the world via three documentaries.


Three films, three countries, three stories… Stéphane Martin, president of the Quai Branly Museum, made an eclectic choice for this evening. This passionate cultured and well travel man, kept to the mission he had set himself upon his arrival at the head of the Quai Branly Museum: That of demonstrating the importance of the civilisations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas and their art. Even if  this time, the president of the Paris museum has concentrated on stories of lives in Asia and Oceania.


A different vision


On the stage of the Grand Theater at the Maison de la  Culture, he explained his choices to a small but attentive audience. The first film tells of China, a somewhat shabby, dusty and poor view.  Stéphane Martin paints a black picture and makes the comparison to Le Salaire de la peur, by Henri-Georges Clouzot with Yves Montand, released in 1953. ” This film shows us that life can be very hard,” said a 67-year-old teacher, seated in a row of seats of the Grand Theatre, “that’s very good because it makes us think about how we live today. Often, I have to remind my students of the chance they have to be able to go to school”. This documentary made with a hand held camera, follows Chinese coal miners, the public boards the trucks with these workers, and finds itself in the middle of construction sites, at the heart of haggling and arguing. Sometimes, the ever-present black dust in this film provides a sensation of suffocation, life is hard, money rare, situations precarious… ” From the outset, we are plunged into this atmosphere. There is no separation between us and the characters in the film, we’re right there with them, living with them “, says Teva, 53. For this FIFO aficionado, it is important to show this kind of film at the festival, especially nowadays where Polynesia is looking towards China, and vice versa. ” This allows Polynesians to have another look at the real situation of the Chinese .”


A common art


The second film of the evening plunges the visitor into the world of Japanese traditional tattooing. If Stéphane Martin justifies his choice by an exhibition at the Quai Branly and the interest of the Polynesians themselves for the practice of tatooing, the man says not a word of his curiosity about this art. He is himself is a fan of tattoos: with a Marquesan tatoo above one ankle and another Tahitian one on his arm ” Here, we consider the tattoo as jewellery, in Japan, the body is just a support “, he explains. La voie de l’encre  follows a Frenchman fascinated by Japan, who went to Tokyo to meet the master tattoo artist Horitoshi and get a tattoo. We learn the importance of ancestral practices, the steps necessary to become a master, or for getting a tattoo, or even the negative attitude towards tattoos in Japan ” . We have Tiki’s on our skin, they have dragons. “It’s their culture ‘, says Ani, 19,  a student at the University of French Polynesia. The young Marquesan came with a friend, also Marquesan  ” I discovered another type of tattoo, it opens our minds, Through this film, we see how the Japanese see their tattoos “, explains Warren, 17-year-old high school student, there is a difference between these two practices: ” having a tattoo is a matter of pride for a Marquesan. But in Japan it is frowned upon. Hinapumaire, a young legal adviser of 28, suggests that the approach differs between the country of the rising sun, and fenua. ” They have managed to preserve their tradition, we have been influenced by the outside. And here, today, it has become a commercial enterprise. In Japan, it’s still a real process, with steps over several years, a tattoo conveys a heritage and personal history.


The encounter


The third and final film of the evening is cruder, perhaps confusing, often fascinating. Stéphane Martin chose this film to bring viewers to the heart of Oceania, but also because of the extraordinary writing in the documentary, and the camera’s viewpoint which one could easily believe to be the Director’s eyes.

Eux et moi tells the story of an ethnologist, who is also the film’s Director, in a small village in New Guinea. Everything is subjective in this 62-minute film. We discover a man who brings merchandise, haggling and money, but also  teaches  language, culture and behaviour. Each must adapt to the other, not without difficulty. The reporting is sometimes distant, sometimes intimate, the viewer evolves with the ethnologist and the other, the stranger. Then, comes trust, and exchanges are less suspicious. This film tells the story of an encounter. ” These are rare images. Even though we know that these tribes exist, they are never seen “, says Helen, a 28 year old Yoga teacher who did not appreciate the monetary exchanges between the ethnologist and the Papuans. ” It doesn’t bring just good things .” Danielle, 70, is more outspoken. “ We taught them duplicity at great speed. It’s no better than what the missionaries did! “, confides the septuagenarian, who does not trouble to hide her aversion. Linda, is just happy to see people still live in this way, simply, and authentically. ” We go back to the time of our ancestors, it revives our memories ‘.