Birth of a Hospital
Naissance d'un hôpital

FRANCE / 1991 / French / Color / 16mm / 67 min

Director: Jean-Louis Comolli
Based on the book by: Pierre Riboulet
Adaptation: Jean-Louis Comolli, Arnaud des Pallières
Photography: Jacques Pamart
Editor: Anne Baudry
Sound: Frank Mercier, Jean-Pierre Laforce
Producer: Muriel Rosé
Production Company: SEPT,INA
Source: Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, L'Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo

Jean-Louis Comolli

Film critic and filmmaker. Joined Cahiers du cinema in 1962 and served as its editor-in-chief from 1966 to 1971. In 1968 directed his first documentary film Les Deux Marseillaises. Directed his first narrative feature La Cecilia in 1976. Since the 1980s he has been fully devoted to documentary filmmaking, and his filmography includes Toto, Une Anthologie (1979), La France à la carte (1986), Marseille de de pere en fils (1989), Un American en Normandie (le jour J de Samuel Fuller) (1994), and Musique de films: Georges Delrue (1994), a portrait of the late celebrated film composer. Comolli is also an active teacher of cinema. He is the co-chairman of the department of film direction at FEMIS (the French national film school) and he also teaches at Paris University 8th and in Barcelona. He is an expert in music and also works as a Jazz critic. He is now completing his latest film on Spanish anarchists in the years 1931-1936; Vies et morts de Buenaventura Durutti, ananchiste (1999).

The architect Pierre Riboulet was commissioned to build a children's hospital. Based on his diary of creation covering five and a half months, the film follows the process of how an architect, drawing inspiration from the location, goes about giving form to a building. At the same time the architect considers a hospital's role in supplying hope and helping children in their struggles against sickness.

At the Risk of the Real - Juror's statement
Our fantasies, like our needs, are scripted. An invisible hand aligns the procedures that are to lead us. Societies slide smoothly from the age of representation - |the theater of institutions, comedies or tragedies of power, spectacles about power relations - to that of programming: from the act to the script. The citizen is no longer asked to be a spectator - active, at once both at stake in representation and actor by delegation - but to stay in his place as consumer, powerless even to understand the program which he performs. Too unequal, the game is no longer a game.
Faced with more and more scripting of social and intersubjective relations as publicized (and finally guaranteed) by the "realist" model of the televised serial, documentary has no choice but to be made at the risk of the real. The imperative of how to film, which lies at the heart of the filmmaker's work, is asked here with most violent necessity: the question is not how to make a film, but how to ensure that there is film. The practice of documentary cinema depends not on circuits of financing or possibilities for distribution but simply on the good will - on the grace - of that which or whom we choose to film, whether individual, institution or group. Desire is at the command post, and the conditions of an experience part of the experience. In opening itself to that which menaces its own possibility (the real which menaces the scene), documentary cinema at the same time saves the possibility of a relief for representations: it is the documentary path which snakes from Germany, Year Zero to The Moontrap, from Petit à petit to Life and Nothing More. Documentary films are not only - open onto the world - they are crossed by it, pierced by it, transported by it. It is a fragile fertility, and documentary cinema sees itself placed and replaced incessantly in a sort of obligation to reinvent itself; faced with programming which dominates and attempts to reduce all reality to a screenplay, it is necessary to find modes of narration which bring, if this is the term, the real into the narrative. We can say this in another way: if film is truly the art which brings together the gaze and the ear, what possibility still exists even to see and hear in our hyperspecularized societies?

COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee