News  ·  04 | 08 | 2022

Nuit obscure – Feuillets sauvages (Les brûlants, les obstinés)

Sylvain George | Fuori concorso

The condition of migration and struggle have always been the basis of the cinema of Sylvain George, a filmmaker who since his first works (cine-reels in film), returned to focus attention on the cinematographic medium as a powerful political tool. The grain of the film becomes the material in which to sculpt the wounds that migrants carry, both on their bodies and their hands, the indication of the analog medium again revealed all its need in taking charge of a little and badly told situation, the timing of a reel turns into the urgency of a step in the revolt at their side. 

For ten years, the French filmmaker worked on a new project in the city of Melilla, Morocco, from which many young people (some even minors) leave for Europe. Nuit obscure – Feuillets sauvages (Les brûlants, les obstinés) is only the first element of a work destined to mark our perception as Western spectators, immersing us in a distant life yet one so defined by our desire to remain blind. 

The starting point is Melilla: a meeting place for diverse characters, mostly young people ready for their big trip, who find themselves trapped in a struggling survival, lacking economic means, continually pervaded by the idea of departure that drives them to daring attempts to board boats and use drugs to survive the disappointment each day brings. Their bodies, sometimes veritable ghosts, roam a city that seems alien, in its linear geometries and always having been a Spanish colony, from Franco's past. The population is reduced to pack mules, border crossers lining their bodies with goods to be smuggled, of human carriers now with no identity. 

The dialectical construction of the first part of the film, in which the general situation of the city (with its historical heritage) alternates with the individual stories of those who live there with their daily ordeal, gradually leaves room for lyrical moments in which some of the protagonists return to the primary elements (water and fire) that become a symbol of freedom and struggle. A skillful construction of thought, even before it is cinema. Among the dazzling reflections of the sun's rays on the water, the dream of travel is nourished, of the possibility of a better life in a deceptive elsewhere that shows different implications from those known here. A political ode, never didactic, about those who are trying to transform the fabric of society. 

Daniela Persico