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As Cannes honours Depardon, "Les Habitants" goes in search of The French


Cinema

As Cannes honours Depardon, "Les Habitants" goes in search of The French

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“We see a lot when we look properly”. Throughout his artistic career as a photographer and filmmaker Raymond Depardon has lived by this phrase. His latest documentary, “Les habitants”, (The Inhabitants), is no exception.

The director takes his cinéma vérité on the road, in search of the French, the real French, with an old caravan in tow. Depardon chooses his subjects at random, as he wanders the streets.

Two people are always involved, and Depardon invites them to continue the conversation they were having, but inside the caravan.

Thirteen such pairs face-off in this restricted yet very visual space, the actors of their own lives, who forget the camera is there while outside the lives of others continue, framed through the window in the background.

The conversations range from banal to extremely serious, at the same time discreet yet shameless. It seems that as luck would have it the 26 chosen voices do not reflect the full range of social groups, but nonetheless the tone is benevolent and the essential quest for reality that should be documentary’s guiding light can be seen in the way universal truths are found in individuals’ experiences.

There is a special tribute to Depardon at this year’s Cannes film festival.

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