Created by Raymond Depardon and Diane Dufour ten years ago in Paris in an old “Italian” ballroom next to the Place de Clichy, Le Bal is devoted to the document image in all its forms (film, photo, video). This is to say if the Chinese director Wang Bing, flagship of Chinese documentary cinema, has his place. Trained in photographer and film, the man entered the film career in 2003, with West of the rails.
This nine-hour work, shot on a DV camera for two years, chronicles the dismantling of the largest Chinese steel complex, built by the Japanese occupation army, in Shenyang. The film is one of the biggest aesthetic shocks dispensed by a documentary since the origins of the genre. It is, at the same time, a Te Deum of electric and ravaged beauty, an elegy of flesh and rust, an epic and spectral painting of the future of man in the era of digital images and capitalism. financial, finally a political fire, which, failing to win him the sympathies of the Chinese power, lavishes him an immediate and universal recognition.
Immersive journey in three stages
Wang Bing, stubborn and courageous artist, will not lift a finger to return to court. On the contrary, in this solitary, fierce, empathetic, almost priestly cinema that is his, he will dig the furrow of a truth which brings to the fore the immemorial tragedy of a martyred people. Forced labor camps (Fenming, chronicle of a Chinese woman ; The gap ; The Dead Souls), ethnic cleansing (Ta’ang), alienation from work (Bitter money), marginality and misery (The Nameless Man), psychiatric confinement (To insanity) : it is indeed historical revisionism and the totalitarian stigmata of his country that the filmmaker relentlessly attaches to, not so much by a militant discourse as by tirelessly filming their effects, wherever he can. On the bodies of the victims, in the language of the witnesses, and even on the ground, if necessary, when the missing are swallowed up there.
Diane Dufour, director of the Bal, and Dominique Païni, a fine connoisseur of the filmmaker’s work, worked hand in hand to put together this sober and beautiful exhibition, designed with the author’s participation. The first brought her interest in the filmed document and in the explosive political part of Wang Bing’s cinema; the second focused on what goes beyond the properly documentary field to achieve what he calls “The invention of a form”.
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