Deeply poetic, human, the cinema of Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval is like a flamboyant mirror, reflecting its renewed brutality to the world, while making a few resistant and luminous perspectives sparkle at the edge of the frame.

From colonial times to the sixth extinction (of animal species, natural habitats, due to human intervention causing pollution and global warming, etc.), When the House is Burning speeds up time and sets unforgettable images (animals filtered of the camera, sublime ghosts in the making), as if extending the work of Chris Marker (1921-2012) on new paths.

visual poem

Elisabeth Perceval on writing, Nicolas Klotz on camera: political reflection and visual experimentation constitute the matrix of the work of the duo of directors, which was the subject of a retrospective at the Center Pompidou, in Paris, in December 2021 Among the thirty films, let us quote Paria (2000), where one embarks in a bus of the RATP with precarious young people, a few hours of the transition to the year 2000; La Blessure (2004), in immersion-fiction alongside refugees disembarked from Roissy; finally, more recently, L’Héroïque Lande. The border is burning (2018), a journey through the jungle of Calais, an incandescent tribute to its “residents”, ending in a sublime solo by the sea.

The retrospective gave rise to the production of a new film, We Say Revolution, commissioned by the Beaubourg cinema team, which asks each of its guests (Kelly Reichardt, Albert Serra, Bertrand Bonello, etc.) to take stock of his work, freely answering this question: “Where are you at?” The cinema version of When the House Burns, the film will be released theatrically by Shellac in early 2023.

We can let ourselves be carried away by this visual poem, in three parts respectively shot in Brazzaville, Barcelona and Sao Paulo (“Course 1”, “Course 2”, “Course 3”, like so many ancient and contemporary manhunts) . But it is not uninteresting to know some references that inspired the filmmakers and nourished the shooting.

The film begins with a terrible story, taken from the book Red Leaves (1930), by William Faulkner. A master has just died and this one must be buried with his dog, his horse and his slave… The race of the fugitive, to escape his sinister fate, echoed among some inhabitants of the Republic of Congo, a young actor remembering such a practice from the time of his great-grandfather. Such is the cinema of Klotz and Perceval, drawing from reality their tireless thirst for debate and showing.