Screening followed by a discussion with the artist
Art video, essay, creative documentary, the artist’s film is all of these at the same time, a vast territory that the Institut audiovisuel de Monaco, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco and the Association L’Eclat have chosen to explore, by highlighting artists whose work lies on the edge between cinema and the museum, films that are singular in their forms, their narrative system, but also in their modes of production and distribution.
Marie Voignier is the guest of this artistic event.
L’HYPOTHÈSE DU MOKÉLÉ MBEMBÉ by Marie Voignier (2011)
Sound, editing, mixing: Thomas Fourel. Production: Capricci Films, L’Âge d’or and L’Espace croisé. Starring: Michel Ballot, Jean-Claude Bembo, Etienne Bembo, Patrice Lumumba, Lucien Abagui Iya
Shot in the south of Cameroon, the film goes in search of an unknown animal in zoology. The Mokele Mbembe, a terrifying animal that resembles a dinosaur, has been present in the stories of the Baka Pygmies for more than two centuries. However, its existence is not scientifically recognised. No specimen, no skeleton and no teeth have yet been brought to the attention of zoologists, who do not believe in the existence of this species other than on a mythological level. Michel Ballot is convinced that the stories from this part of Africa have a basis of truth and that this beast does exist. To try to prove it, he regularly organises expeditions to the areas where it has been seen.
The review: More than a piece of research in the narrative sense (the fiction remains in the mind), the film is a portrait of the explorer and the local inhabitants. But, unlike Werner Herzog, who involves himself body and soul (and at least in words) in the expeditions that he transforms into disaster or epic, whether they are documentary or fictional, Marie Voignier’s work is built from an apparent retreat, almost an effacement, to plunge us not into a slightly crazy heroism but into an impassive “dream of reality”, here of a wisdom not devoid of strangeness. Above all, this dream and this withdrawal, far from fuelling confusion, highlight the gaps between two forms of belief: that of Western man, on the side of materialistic knowledge, who dreams and hopes but seeks tangible proof, and that of the Africans, on the side of life on Earth and familiarity – and not really of the imaginary, so much so that the Mokelé Mbembé, visible or invisible, seems present and close to them.
Florent Guézengar in Cahiers du Cinéma, November 2012