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Au pied de la lettre

Marianne Bressy
France, 2017
Production : Les Films de l'Autre Côté



“At certain times in my life, I’ve felt so overwhelmed that I almost fell to my knees in front of words, they seemed so obscure, they became almost sacred, and the fear of not knowing them paralysed me.” Gérard describes what life’s like if you’re illiterate, your struggle to survive. At last, today, at the age of forty-seven, he’s learned to read and write, but the simple things of everyday life continue to cause him crippling anxiety. How do you get a job? How do you become a father and pass down your knowledge? How do you learn to love yourself again? This film is a testimony to the endeavours of a man in search for his identity. It’s an account of his rite-of-passage, his gradual progress towards knowledge, an inner journey to reconquer his self-image, his place in society, and finally become the agent of his own life.

Avec le soutien de la Scam

Tënk's film review

Sometimes documentary cinema involves remarkable protagonists, ordeals to overcome, conflicts, obstacles, emotion and suspense. “Au Pied de la Lettre” uses an implacable dramaturgical grammar to take us with Gérard on his journey and make identification work to its full potential. The movie also uses something rare in documentary cinema since it’s hard to record – and yet it’s recorded here – interior monologue; it’s a clever device with extraordinary dramatic force, and it adds a great deal to our comprehension of the film and Gérard’s inner self…
This is a true story. It’s pretty uncommon to leave a film wondering what became of the protagonist. And it feels good to love a character!

Jérémie Jorrand
Tënk's Editorial and programming Director

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Marianne Bressy

After graduating with a BA in modern literature, Marianne Bressy began organising free parties before becoming a VJ and video clip maker for musicians from the breakcore and impro scene. Reality intervenes as an obvious narrative medium when she wants to make herself heard above the music. A self-taught hacker, she turned to documentaries, and with her very intimist portraits, she makes sensitive and militant films about issues such as immigration, colonisation and illiteracy. Since injustice is the essential driving force behind her anger and the source of the energy that fuels her films, it was only natural that she became Artistic Director of the Images de Justice Festival for Comptoir du Doc. “Au pied de la lettre”, her first feature-length film, was supported from the writing stage onwards by the Brouillon d'un Rêve arrangement, screened at the Cinéastes en Résidence at the Périphérie documentary film centre and awarded an “Etoile” or star by the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM).

Other films in the collection: Brouillon d'un rêve