Many years passed from the moment Sylvain George (1968) decided he wanted to be a filmmaker until he shot his first images: twenty, to be precise, from his initial idea at 18 years of age until 38, when he finally filmed something. In contrast to the immediacy allowed by digital technology, George put off pressing REC for the first time for a number of reasons. Perhaps, in all those years, that time of reflection, is where part of the strength of his filmmaking lies, one of overwhelming and surprising energy. Filmmaking that combines –without contradictions– the reflective gaze of someone who has thought a lot before picking up the camera, with the violence and urgency of someone who knows that the position of the camera is very similar to that held by someone shooting a weapon.
Sylvain George, who was a social worker before becoming a filmmaker, was born for contemporary cinema in 2009 when he presented his feature film L’impossible. Pages arrachées (2009) at FID Marseille. It is a long triptych on the social and political movements that started to emerge worldwide as a result of a deep-seated economic and political crisis. It particularly focused on themes that would be further developed later: the search for a new form (poetical more than narrative, lyrical rather than expository) to make political cinema, and working alone, close to the land; a kind of do-it-yourself in which independence is not a label but a basic tenet.
The following year –2010–, and once again in FID Marseille, George presented an initial version of Qu'ils reposent en révolte (2010), which developed a theme that was present in his previous film: a portrait, in high-contrast black and white, of the French port of Calais, where immigrants from all over Africa joined up in the hope of crossing the English Channel and reaching the United Kingdom. Far removed from any ‘tics’ of social cinema loaded with uncritical sentimentalism, George’s work combines militancy with a flight from documentary realism, which is hard to assimilate for him. The final cut of the film won the first prize and the Fipresci critics’ prize at the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival.
The three years George spent in Calais with the immigrants –non-persons in a non-space–helped him compose his latest film, Les éclats (Ma guele, ma revolte, mon nom) (2011), in which he goes deeper into working with space and time and the faces, voices and traces of people who are only statistics or fleeting faces on the TV news.