Chris Kennedy

“Brûle le Mer.” February 12, 2015

Brûle la mer (Burn the Sea)
dirs. Nathalie Nambot & Maki Berchache | France 2014 | 75 min. 35mm

“The film is a poetic quest which combines materiality (in the strictest sense of that which is material life) and abstraction: the experience of rupture, of reversal. The images should render perceptible the connection between a country left behind and the country of dreams, and then, the reversal which slowly takes hold, of how the country of dreams becomes the country left behind.”—Nathalie Nambot

Leaving Tunisia soon after the fall of the Ben Ali regime in the 2011 Jasmine Revolution, Maki Berchache arrived in Paris and stumbled upon L’abominable, a cooperative artist-run analogue film lab in the suburbs of Paris devoted to discovering alternative possibilities in cinema and, through them, divining ways to actually live differently. A chance meeting with filmmaker and activist Nathalie Nambot led to a fruitful collaboration that produced the stunning Brûle la mer, which uses Berchache’s own experience as a starting point for a collective narrative about the harragas—North African migrants attempting to find refuge in Europe in the wake of the Arab Spring—and a poetic rumination on the idea of freedom itself.

Following the harragas on the journey across the Mediterranean, through Italy and into France—the attempts to find work, to connect with Europeans who were friendly as tourists but now hostile as neighbours, to build the foundations for a new life—Nambot and Berchache build upon these documentary facts to interrogate the quest for a new, “better” life in the north; Nambot speaks of the film as an act of hospitality, questioning both the process of leaving and the politics of welcome, the act of both becoming and receiving the outsider. Moving seamlessly from critique to reflection, aided immeasurably by its lush 16mm and Super 8 imagery—shot and processed by the filmmakers and Nicolas Rey, whose artisanal visual aesthetic (exemplified in his own recent film differently, Molussia) runs counter to the evidentiary insistence so common in contemporary documentary videography— Brûle la mer evokes a landscape of memories and dreams running parallel to the physical landscape its subjects traverse, weaving them together as it amplifies personal experience into a universal one.

Nathalie Nambot & Maki Berchache in person.

Thursday, February 12 6:30pm