Au loin des villages
CH 2008 77'
April 2006. 13,000 members of the Dajo ethnic group have taken refuge on the plain of Gouroukoun in eastern Chad. They are all survivors of the Darfur conflict. Secluded in the camp they have constructed, they create their own way of life and means of survival. The filmmaker joins the refugees in this prison without walls. His lingering images convey the interminable waiting and an impression of life in slow motion, unfolding moment by moment in a non-place of destitution. Yet this war film contains no images of war. Instead, refugees relate at length their experiences, children draw scenes of battle, little girls hum songs of combat
Thirteen thousand displaced persons havefled the ethnic violence perpetrated in theregion of Koloye, in Chad along the border with Sudan. Since 2005, survivors mainly women and children from dozens of villages have been squeezed into a camp that was hastily set up by relief agencies. In AU LOIN DES VILLAGES, Olivier Zuchuat films the daily life of these refugees, expelled from their land by the incursions of the Arab Janjaweed militia, which operates from neighbouring Darfur. We have moved an entire region into this camp because of problems which are none of our business exclaims one man helplessly. The cameras move seldom and slowly, and the director films in mid shots with a fixed lens in order to establish the necessary distance to take in these traumatic moments that stretch on and on, and the calmness of despair. There is, for example, the villager who lists to the camera the names he has written in a notebook of the 46 victims of a battle which he survived. Another example is the chorus of women crying out that the suffering alone will kill us. While the film also witnesses some slow social reconstruction, such as during a long argument about virginity and the amount of one woman's dowry a metaphor for the exchange of women which is fundamental in the community there is also a menacing suggestion of what that structure will be from now on. As the film ends, children sing a song that contains only one message: a desire for vengeance that will merely serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2009