BELGIUM / 2000 / French / Color / 35mm (1:1.66) / 90 min
Director, Photography: Benoit Dervaux
Editing: Marie-Hélène Dozo
Sound: Benoit de Clerk
Narrator: Michel Hock
Producers: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Esther Offenberg
Production Companies: Les Films du Fleuve (Belgium), Lapsus (France)
Co-Production Company: La Sept ARTE
Source: Les Films du Fleuve
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In 1976, psychiatric treatment center La Devinière opened its doors to nineteen children who had been diagnosed as incurable by local hospitals. To accept them was an act seemingly beyond the limits of psychiatric medicine. La Devinière freed the children from bars, restraints and medicine, and succeeded in restoring to them the dignity deserved by any human being. Over twenty years have passed, and once more the camera is brought to bear on their daily lives, this time as adults.
[Directors Statement] Filming lasted a year. Initially the idea was to film one month per season in order to better understand their relationship to nature and time.... The life of La Devinière is shaped by the religious festivals (Christmas, Easter, Saint-Nicolas) which for its inhabitants are landmarks as well as opportunities for various activities such as decoration or the preparation of special meals etc.... My relations with “the children” evolved during the filming. The rules of the game were established naturally without any instigating on my part. Those who didn’t want to be filmed quickly understood that they just had to step out of camera shot.
The caregivers come from the outside; they are “intruders.” If I had let them speak, effectively they would have spoken for the lodgers of La Devinière. That is what I didn’t want.
I discovered a prudishness which was not self-censuring but a respectful and real approach to the “children.” The dirtiness is often real and of course the staff of La Devinière are aware of this fact. It is true that in insanity there is an aspect of catastrophe. But isn’t that a minor detail when we consider the minds and souls of these people?
(Adapted from the press materials for La Devinière)
Born in 1966. Climbed the ranks from camera assistant to camera operator to become one of the leading cinematographers in Belgium cinema. Simultaneously, started a career of his own as a documentary film director with Gigi and Monica in 1994. In 1996, directed the highly praised Gigi, Monica... & Bianca, nominated for the Prix Europa in the non-fiction category in 1997. Also known for his collaboration as cinematographer with Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne on the acclaimed La Promesse and Rosetta, winner of the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999.
• International Competition | Angelos’ Film | A2 | Buenaventura Durruti, Anarchist | Crazy | Days in Those Mountains | La Devinière | Gaea Girls | Grandma’s Hairpin | In Vanda’s Room | The Land of the Wandering Souls | Mysterious Object at Noon | Paragraph 175 | Private Chronicles. Monologue | 6 Easy Pieces | Southern Comfort • Jurors | Hartmut Bitomsky | Bernard Eisenschitz | Ann Hui | Kuroki Kazuo | Ivars Seleckis