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For some twenty years, François Caillat has been making films dealing with absence and oblivion, traces, and more broadly the perceptible incorporation of the past in our daily round.

Francois Caillat has directed two feature films : WELCOME TO BATAVILLE (90’, released in 2008, a fable about obligatory happiness in the 20th century) ; and OF LOVE AND YOUTH (105’, released in 2013, a personal narrative and portrait of a generation in Paris in the 1970s.)

He has also made documentary feature films for television (Arte France) which form a kind of trilogy on the themes of memory and landscape : THE FOURTH GENERATION (75’, 1997, a historical saga about the film-maker’s family in Lorraine), THREE GERMAN SOLDIERS (80’, 2001, a historical and novelistic investigation about a missing person in the Second World War) and THE VALERIE CASE (75’, 2004, about memories of a woman who disappeard).

For television he has also produced portraits of writers and intellectuals, as the german philosopher PETER SLOTERDIJK, the french-bulgarian semiologist JULIA KRISTEVA, or the Nobel Price writer J.M.G LE CLEZIO. His last portrait concerns the french philosopher Michel Foucault : FOUCAULT AGAINST HIMSELF (Arte France, 52’, 2014).

His films have been selected in international festivals as Hots Docs, Festival dei Populi, FID Marseille, Montreal, Cuba, etc. He won a price at festival Cinéma du Réel (Paris) for his film THE FOURTH GENERATION.


FRANÇOIS CAILLAT, GHOST CHASER

by Thierry Garrel
producer and program planer

In what is now conventionally called the “Ecole Française du documentaire”   (french manner of documentaries), François Caillat has an at once special and secret place.

As a storyteller and poet, ghost hunter and one who tells good adventure yarns, for twenty years he has been developing a most coherent oeuvre, elegantly—and with the sleight of hand of a conjurer—weaving enchanting tales, full of imagery, to help us share the fruit of his solitary expeditions into the depths of the past.

If François Caillat knows, like nobody else, how to use powers of evocation and suggestion, where images and sounds are concerned (impressions and super-impressions), grasp the spirit of places, and cast upon characters and landscapes alike, as well the documents and objects of reality, a very keen eye, it is always the novelistic elements which hold sway in his films: local or national imagination, novel of childhood or adolescence, family novel.

This is why François Caillat, in the very way in which he daringly and musically handles the language of images and the subtle tricks of narrative, is probably the most sebald-like of today’s documentary makers.

Thierry Garrel has headed the Arte TV documentary unit since it was created in 1992. Recognizing him as a pillar of television documentary policy, the Galerie du Jeu de Paume held a retrospective of his work in 2011.
He is now producer and program planer. He is in charge of international documentary festival of Vancouver DOXA.

FRANCOIS CAILLAT, EL CAZADO DE FANTASMAS
por Thierry Garrel

En lo que se suele llamar la “Escuela Francesa del Documental”, François Caillat ocupa un sitio al mismo tiempo singular y secreto. Narrador y poeta, cazador de fantasmas y clarividente, desarrolla desde hace veinte años una obra muy coherente y teje con elegancia –y con una ligereza de prestidigitador –cuentos llenos de imágenes y de embrujos, para hacernos compartir el fruto de sus expediciones solitarias hacia las profundidades del pasado.

Así, las cuatro películas aquí reunidas son historias de buena o de mala fortuna –amorosas, dinásticas, regionales–, pero también leyendas verdaderas de nuestro tiempo que se relacionan con nuestras experiencias más íntimas. Porque si François Caillat sabe como nadie usar el poder de evocación y de sugerencia de las imágenes y de los sonidos (impresiones y sobreimpresiones), capturar el espíritu de los lugares y tener una mirada muy aguda sobre las personas y los paisajes, los documentos y los objetos de la realidad, es siempre lo novelesco lo que sobresale en sus películas: imaginario local o nacional, novela de infancia o de adolescencia, novela familiar.

Es por eso que François Caillat, por la forma misma en la que maneja, audaz y musicalmente, el idioma de las imágenes y las astucias sutiles de la narración, probablemente sea el más sebaldiano de los documentalistas contemporáneos.

Thierry Garrel dirigió la Unidad Documentales del canal Arte desde su creación en 1992. Reconocido como un pilar en la política documental de la televisión, la Galerie du Jeu de Paume le dedicó en 2001 una retrospectiva de su trabajo como productor.