• Gare du Nord (2013) - Claire Simon

    GARE DU NORD – the interactive website

    [French language] GARE DU NORD was originally conceived as a transmedia project by Les Films d’ici, including “… a feature film, interactive website, documentary and theatre play … Like many of Simon’s previous works, such as her 2008 mockumentary GOD’S OFFICES, the project blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. The professional cast is flanked by people playing themselves as well as amateur actors in fictional roles … The interactive website [was designed to be] a virtual Gare du Nord station through which users can navigate their path, clicking on characters they encounter along the way.” Melanie Goodfellow, Screen Daily, 6/15/12 

    GARE DU NORD – the film

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    “ZERO DARK THIRTY actor Reda Kateb stars along with actress-director Nicole Garcia (MON ONCLE D’AMERIQUE) in this docu-fiction set inside Europe’s largest train station. An intriguing melange of fact and fiction yields mixed-to-positive results in GARE DU NORD, filmmaker Claire Simon’s ode to the sprawling multicultural population of Europe’s largest, and busiest, train station.” Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter, 9/27/13

     

     gare-du-nord2“Loosely, it tells the story of Mathilde (Nicole Garcia), a university professor and aging beauty who is undergoing chemotherapy, and the much younger Ismaël (Reda Kateb), a French-born Arab student who is doing his PhD on the “global village square” that is the Gare. They cross paths; the confident and slightly chippy Ismaël pursues the surprised and flattered Mathilde; they make out in the utility closet. Their lives brush up against those of various others: a TV personality searching for his lost daughter; a transient real estate agent fighting to preserve her marriage … The real story of the film, however, is that of the shopkeepers, security guards, cleaners, drug dealers, families and madmen whom Ismaël interviews. Through him, we eavesdrop on their lives, and not a single one of them tells a boring story – from the Congolese black marketeer with the denim addiction to the unemployed Italian factory worker who thinks his shrink has installed tiny cameras behind his eyeballs.” Chris Michael, The Guardian, 1/28/14


    1375440827thumbnail-resize-375x210“There are many reasons why GARE DU NORD shouldn’t work. The unlikely central courtship between dishevelled doctoral student Ismaël (Reda Kateb) and sophisticated history professor Mathilde (Nicole Garcia) is improbable. The film addresses almost every issue in contemporary French society: unemployment, crime, bureaucracy, surveillance, consumerism, drug dealing, immigration, along with universal concerns such as illness, death and the supernatural. It almost loses its way in the middle. And yet, somehow, it remains compelling viewingVitally, rather than trying to solve the issues it raises, the film is more interested in how they affect everyday lives: a scene in which an overworked estate agent waves goodbye to her family is, like much of the film, understated yet moving.” Kathryn Bromwich, Time Out London, 10/2/13

     

    HUMAN GEOGRAPHY – the documentary

    Geographie-humaine-court-metrage_portrait_w193h257“How appropriate it is that Claire Simon’s complementary pair of pictures, the narrative GARE DU NORD and the documentary HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, should take place at the train station that lends the former its name … The stories they tell reflect the respective strengths of each form of cinema: HUMAN GEOGRAPHY searches the station for interesting passengers whose destinations might illuminate the cross-section of humanity this location represents; GARE DU NORD, meanwhile, directly presents that sense of convergence in its construction of interlaced subplots centered on one unlikely romance … While neither film forcibly depends on having seen, or even heard of, the other, it’s a classic case of a whole far greater than the sum of its parts … Just as Simon’s fiction is predicated on a bedrock of basic emotional and humanistic fact, her non-fiction is slave to the whims and whiles of a creative mind and the structural abstractions it brings to bear. The unique allure of GARE DU NORD and HUMAN GEOGRAPHY lies not in the distinctions they clarify between the disparate modes of fiction and documentary, but in the lengths they go to showing the fallacy of maintaining any such distinctions. Documentary and narrative cinema, says Simon, are not incomparable antitheses, just different means of storytelling. The points of departure may not be the same, but Simon’s new works are movies that cross tracks time and time again.” Ronan Doyle, Criticwire, 8/14/13

     

     

     

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    Categories: Experimental Work