In Memory of Marceline Loridan

Chronicle of a Summer

Chronique d’un été

FRANCE / 1961 / French / B&W/ Digital File (Original: 16mm) / 86 min

Directors: Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin
Photography: Raoul Coutard, Jean-Jacuqes Tarbès, Michel Brault, Roger Morillère
Editing: Jean Ravel, Françoise Collin, Néna Baratier
Sound: Edmond Barthélémy, Michel Fano, Guy Rophé
Music: Pierre Barbaud
Appearances: Marceline Loridan, Jean-Pierre Sergent, Nadine Ballot, Régis Debray, Marilù Parolini
Producer: Anatole Dauman
Production Company: Argos Films


In the summer of 1960 in Paris, the camera goes out into the city to record various people of different generations and environments: factory workers, company employees, artists, students, and black immigrants. They are all asked the same question, “Are you happy?” in an accumulation of interviews on love, work, leisure time, and racial issues. In the latter part of the film, the interviewees gather to discuss the visual record of their interviews. Are they conscious of the camera’s presence? Is what you see in this film reality (cinéma vérité) or just acting (cinéma mensonge)? By actively committing to the subjects, the intentional aspect or political nature of the film is revealed, and the concepts of “real” and “fiction” are questioned. This is a representative work of “cinéma vérité” co-directed by Rouch and Morin on a hand-held 16mm camera and portable sound recording equipment. Marceline Loridan (1928−2018), who later married Joris Ivens and became a documentary filmmaker, plays a central role as interviewer.

Remake of a Summer

Reprendre l’été

FRANCE / 2016 / French / Color / Digital File / 96 min

Directors, Photography: Magali Bragard, Séverine Enjolras
Editing: Magali Bragard, Thomas Laufer
Sound: Ludivine Pelé
Sound Editor, Mixing: Matthieu Hautin
Production Company, Source: Survivance

A modern-day remake of Rouch and Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer. “Are you happy?”—one summer fifty years on, two female directors ask the same question as the original film, in Paris and its suburbs. How do people reply? Are their answers different due to the passing of time? The question about life is a portrait of French society, as well as an attempt to re-examine the meaning of “cinéma vérité” today.

Marceline Loridan and Yamagata

“How can Japanese women accept their subordinate situation?”

We were in 1971, forty-eight years ago, and I was asked that question by Marceline Loridan at Sanrizuka where she had come with Joris Ivens to meet Ogawa Shinsuke. I was there as a voluntary interpreter and was supposed to concentrate on the discussion between the two great masters of documentary films. They were meeting for the first time and had so many matters to discuss, but Marceline was so happy to encounter a compatriot who, speaking Japanese, would naturally help her to understand the country and explain how Japanese women managed to survive in such a country where their condition was, at least, enigmatic. She could not care less whether her questions would interfere with Ogawa-san’s speech as she did not understand his words . . . That first encounter was quite delirious as I had to invent, on the spot, a way to translate an intense dialogue between two passionate filmmakers and, at the same time, maintain a conclusive feminist discussion with an activist who was pulling out all the stops. At that time, I did not know anything about Marceline Loridan, but, like many others, I was caught up by the indomitable temperament of that tiny woman, less than five feet high, with luxuriant red hair and an unforgettable husky voice.

I ran into her thirteen years later when she was a guest with Joris Ivens at a party given by the French Prime Minister in honor of Kurosawa Akira. Amidst the 500 guests, all wanting to catch the attention of the Japanese maestro, she succeeded in moving the hero of the party by telling the story of A Tale of the Wind. I could see Kurosawa’s eyes follow the couple on the wind ways and dream with them of a film which would be truer than reality. Once more, Marceline’s magic had made me an accomplice in translating and I could not be less than full of admiration considering the incredible vital energy of that woman made of fire praising the wind of history whose fierceness she had experienced more than anyone.

Out of the dreadfulness of the concentration camps that she endured when she was fifteen, she made a film to her image: painful but merry, unclassifiable but essential, iconoclast but true to the memory of those numberless victims of the Nazi madness: The Birch-tree Meadow (2002). She never forgot that she was a survivor. She was a whirlwind of humor and generosity. She used to say that she was a ninety-year-old-young girl. She loved going to Yamagata, although Japanese women remained an enigma for her.

Catherine Cadou