Le fort des fous
France, Qatar, Germany, Algeria
Helped on its way when the project won the Open Doors award in 2015, Le fort des fous by Narimane Mari is one of the most complex and fascinating films seen in recent years, one which cannot be described by any of the usual catch-all formulas. On the contrary, it tends to broaden the field of its investigation, sequence by sequence, leaving viewers to find their own pathway through the materials, suggestions and revelations that it contains. Divided into three sections with conspicuously different approaches and narration, combining both fiction and documentary techniques, the film shifts from the weight of the colonial past to the plight of migrants today. The first section plays out like a parody of military training, set in an abandoned fort. The theme is education: from footage of a public speech by Sarkozy to the use of a song with suggestively foul-mouthed lyrics, Mari highlights the West’s longstanding and continued paternalistic attitude towards its former colonies. In the second section the action takes place on an island that becomes a kind of Utopia, an image of a community made up of many languages and cultures. The third is comprised of a series of conversations with Greek analysts about the current situation in Europe. Taking her cue from Jean-Marie Straub, Narimane Mari shows the recording sessions with no frills at all, straightforwardly exposing part of the material from which his work is made. On the round trip from images to words and back, Le Fort de fous is a journey through present time and a film that puts itself forward as a tool for interpreting society and the ties on which it rests.
By Carlo Chatrian