De leur vivant, at the heart of mourning
by Aurore Engelen
09/05/2012 - A father and his three children cross paths in an old family hotel, each in their own way trying to mourn the loss of the family’s mother. The unexpected arrival of a eight-month pregnant young woman will strengthen the family’s loose bonds, and relaunch dialogue between them after it was brutally interrupted by tragedy.
In De leur vivant, Géraldine Doignon offers us a first feature that is both moving and timid. She weaves a little more of the cinematic web that she had already started in her short films, using stretched family ties, sometimes to the point of rupture, but in the end elastic enough to regain their original state.
De leur vivant is a modest project, yet one in which Doignon has invested herself fully, after conceiving it in a moment of artistic urgency because the development of what was originally going to be her first feature, Un homme à la mer (soon to start shooting), was taking too long. Indeed, the whole team invested itself in the film, from the actors, most of whom appear here in their first feature, to its producer, Anthony Rey from production company Hélicotronc, for whom it is also a first feature and who fought to find the film’s small budget.
And the fight is still on, as Hélicotronc is now in charge of the film's distribution. The production company is the latest in a line of Belgian producers who, faced with inadequate distributor support for their films, have decided to release them themselves, whether by creating their own distribution company (like Versus with O’Brother, Entre Chien et Loup with Dreamtouch, or Climax with Big Bang Distribution), or by releasing them directly themselves, as was the case last January for Miles from Anywhere [trailer, festival scope] when it was released by Need Productions.
The phenomenon is definitely interesting and shows a highly competitive sector (there are often 10 releases per week in Belgium), in which auteur films struggle to find their place. Like the digital revolution and social media, new codes are having to be invented. Even if these “wild” releases are not as successful as originally hoped for, they definitely add to the reflexion on new distribution strategies for low-budget films. De leur vivant has been released in six cinemas, and word-of-mouth will, more than ever, be its best ally for it to stay in cinemas long enough to engage with the public.
(Translated from French)