A brief piece on a beautiful film. The L Magazine, April 23.
San Clemente was co-directed by Sophie Ristelhueber and the great French documentarian Raymond Depardon, whose films also include the indelible Profils paysans (aka Peasant Profiles) trilogy, which records people that are part of a disappearing French rural lifestyle during this century’s first decade. The 71 year-old Depardon’s talent for rendering quiet impressions and portraits has further led to his many years of work as a still photographer (most notably for Magnum Photos), during which he created a book of still photographs from his San Clemente experience.
The film is screening in New York on a 35mm imported print as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s first annual "Art of the Real" series, co-curated by the FSLC’s Director of Cinematheque Programming Dennis Lim and freelance programmer Rachael Rakes. (Lim’s commendable willingness to co-program also led to last August’s outstanding "Cinema of Resistance" series, created with John Gianvito.) “Art of the Real,” which concludes on Saturday, sketches an overview of recent trends in nonfiction filmmaking, which has distinguished itself from straight documentary in recent years with increasingly prominent efforts to record truth with touches of fiction.
Some of “Art of the Real“‘s newer works that I have seen in full and can happily recommend are O Arquipelago, Lukas the Strange, The Second Game, and A Thousand Suns. Yet what makes this inaugural edition of the series so special for me is its additional commitment to repertory titles, which recognizes the search for creative ways to render real life as a long-entrenched cinematic endeavor. Many of the series’s older films are precious and rare, which means that the works I already know and love (including Ah, Liberty!, Anna, Derek Jarman’s Blue, La Libertad, and Sweetgrass in addition to San Clemente) number far fewer than the movies to look forward to. I see such a list and feel grateful.