Jean-Gabriel Périot’s retro


Finally we found something from other times. now: present isn’t all just now in the present. Or is it? Actually it is but let me explain better. retro: section brings to Aarhus Film Festival an unique opportunity of going back in time and being so updated. First because retro: is dedicated to the work of Jean-Gabriel Périot, the French filmmaker and visualist. His work shown in retro: on Thursday, will be screened again soon this afternoon. That´s right. The best of all is that this Saturday, not only Dies Irae (10 min., experimental/animation, 2005); Even If She Had Been a Criminal… / Eût-elle été criminelle… (9 min., documentary, 1944); 200 000 Phantoms / Nijuman No Borei (10 min., animated documentary, 2007); The Barbarians / Les Barbares (5 min., documentary, 2010); Looking at the Dead (20 min., fiction, 2011); The Devil (7 min., documentary, 2012); Our Days, Absolutely, Have To Be Enlightened / Nos jours, absolutment, doivent être illuminés (22 min., documentary, 2011) will be screened, but also Jean-Gabriel Périot will be there, in person, and open to questions during his talk at focus: + 1. This takes place after the retro: section screening in cinema Øst for Paradis A, at 15.00.

But what makes Jean-Gabriel work so special? Well after watching the 7 films here presented by Aarhus Film Festival I can say that he Jean-Gabriel is more than just a filmmaker. He is a doer, a producer, an artist, a worker in all the sense of the word, who understands perfectly and gives body the art of making films, with all the fantastic part in it as well as with the depth into subjects and histories. His documentaries like 200 000 Phantoms / Nijuman No Borei show that a hard work of research, though with other people in his staff so to say, allows Jean-Gabriel Périot to go deeper into one subject, just by making an authentic master of work from old (and some new) photographs, moving around the seen and composed with a soundtrack and definitely a sensible work of choosing every single still and placing it in its best position. A magic touch which makes all the difference.

On the other hand it is good to understand how Jean-Gabriel prefers, when he has the chance, to anonymously get his focus on peoples faces, finding the beauty of our human expressions. He does it during the listening to the music concert played by prison inmates; while relatives, friends and other are outside staring at a wall – the prison wall. In Our Days, Absolutely, Have To Be Enlightened / Nos jours, absolutment, doivent être illuminés it is also interesting to see on peoples faces how the eye focus is not so clear once the object of that event is actually invisible, closed behind the wall and the ones “lost and wondering” are actually outside. After all, it is just art. Some of the best art, I would say.

Finally The Devil allows Jean-Gabriel to use and compose a film from old films (just as he did in Even If She Had Been a Criminal… / Eût-elle été criminelle… ) and to compose it with a lyric from the soundtrack which allows the artist to express is entire thoughts and positioning about the matter, in the case, the fight for the Civil Rights in USA (opposing to the public condemnation of the Nazi collaborators after the end of the WW II in Paris, where women were violently punished by the other citizens while their hair was shaved to inexistence) Black Panthers movement and their public demonstrations of preparation to fight for their rights and against a racist system. It is the 7th art at is best! So don’t miss it!


Francisco Dos Santos
Aarhus Culture, November 2012