African Trilogy: Sylvain L’Espérance

Join us on a trip to the most remote holiday destination so far; the centre of Western Africa; during the last week of August. Looking through the camera of director Sylvain L’Espérance, we will offer you a unique encounter with the life stories of people that might seem distant at first glance; which, however, are closer to us than we would have thought. They have a common denominator that links us all; the unintended impact of globalization. In collaboration with Canada’s RIDM festival, invites you to open three African film chapters in the week from August 29 to September 11 for free.

Sylvain L’Espérance is one of the most renowned representatives of the contemporary Canadian documentary scene. In his work, the Montréal-based audiovisual artist combines visual arts and cinema. The two fields he has gradually studied go hand in hand. Moreover, the remarkable conceptual reflection found in the director’s films is combined with the Canadian film tradition of cinéma direct. The latter imbues L’Espérance’s films primarily by means of sound; rather than being aided by the musical component, it is solely a real audio recording made during shooting.

Conveying a strong social charge, which has sparked the filmmaker’s interest in the theme of globalization whose raw impact on the West African society he has followed, L’Espérance brings impulses and approaches of anthropological exploration of reality to the diverse contemporary Canadian cinema. It is the diversity of Canadian documentary (among many other things) that Montréal’s RIDM documentary festival has been mapping for local and international audiences since 1998. In collaboration with RIDM, has already brought you a collection of Canadian films you can find here. You can also read an interview about the festival in our news.

The director started working on his loose African trilogy in 2006 as he introduced THE RIVER WHERE WE LIVE which was followed by the documentary INTO THE DELTA three years later. The two films are linked by the motive of water, specifically the delta of Niger River in Mali, West Africa. The filmmaker has captured the life of a family of fishermen; unchanged in the course of the past decades and even centuries, it has undergone a remarkable change in the past few years. Extensive climatic change and increase in oil price represent two key negative impacts among many others the family has to deal with.

The final and so far latest film by the director, STANDING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD from 2012, represents another aspect of the highly interconnected modern world. It takes the viewers to a residential building in Bamak, Mali which has become a temporary home to a group of migrants. While some of them are waiting to leave for a better life abroad, others have come here to apply for an asylum. The director focuses on the lives of two men and one woman who have chosen artistic expression to maintain their awareness of a full existence in the middle of timelessness and hopelessness.

Say goodbye to the summer at the delta of Niger River in the company of, RIDM festival and the inquisitive look of Sylvain L’Espérance!

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