What the ongoing IFFK 2019 offers this year for film buffs

IFFK 2019: On Camille’s life and the crazy quest to be true

Recapturing a recent incident on screen, which involves shooting in a region of conflict where hardly a film has ever been shot, can be an endeavour full of pitfalls.

In ‘Camille’, screened in the international competition category at the 14th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), filmmaker Boris Lojkine sets out to do just this, and comes out almost unscathed. The film revolves around the rather short life of French photojournalist Camille Lepage, who died while covering the civil war in the Central African Republic in 2013-14.

The basic requirement here for making the film, of being there in the actual places where the conflict happened, is the most daunting. But, Lojkine pulls this off admirably, by throwing us into the middle of the conflict, along with Camille, for whom also it is a baptism by fire into war photography.

According to Panayotova Bojina, who co-wrote the film, the director, with his background in documentaries, always wanted to be close to the truth when making the film. “For him, three truths were important in this film — one is the truth of her lens, the second the truth of what it is to be a photojournalist and war photographer today, and third, the truth about the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). So, he decided to shoot the film in CAR, which was a difficult decision, and an almost crazy decision. There was no film industry there at all, which meant there was no crew, no cameras and no actors. It was also a dangerous country to shoot in,” says Bojina.

Camille arrives in CAR, when the communal conflict between the Islamists of Seleka and the Christian opposition of anti-Balaka, is at its heights. Some of the more celebrated photographers around her refuse to take her into their group initially. Yet, undaunted, she goes around befriending university students and other members of the community.

The director shows us what the original Camille saw, by incorporating her original photographs and footage from that time in the film. He takes an objective view of the conflict, casting a critical eye through Camille, on the revenge killings of innocent Muslims by the earlier victims. The film also raises questions to the whites who set out to ‘save’ those in caught in conflicts, many of which their own native countries have created, and on the relevance of war photography itself.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 8:17:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/iffk-2019-on-camilles-life-and-the-crazy-quest-to-be-true/article30268865.ece

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