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by Aïda Maigre-Touchet


Shot in Port-au-Prince at the home of the poet, art critic and actor Dominique Batraville, this film sidesteps all the pitfalls of the artist’s portrait by creeping into the intimacy of the room where he reads, sleeps, writes or listens to the radio. “The world is not a church”: his first utterance can also be understood as applying to the filmmaker’s gaze on the man she is filming – admired but not held sacred. French slips into Creole when a young neighbour comes to help him find a book or pack his bags. The small room with its clutter of books and notebooks soon comes across as an extension of the author’s spirit as he thinks aloud, mixing snatches of poetry, post-siesta musings, biographemes (“My elder brother didn’t like me reading.”) and memories of the Duvalier dictatorship. Above all, Aïda Maigre-Touchet manages to bring to life a powerful, off-screen world composed of secret compartments: Port-au-Prince life murmuring all around, and foreign lands, hinted at by the cell phone, the suitcase to be packed, the invitations to the Académie française and Cannes. Batraville’s chubby yet lightweight body creates the link between these two poles: the idiosyncrasy of the bookcase-bed and the globe-trotter’s internationalism. The closeness established by the filmmaker, which espouses the meditative musicality of writing and reading, also helps us to understand what remains a mystery for the author’s friends: “why I stay here”.

international title: Song of a Seer
original title: Les Flâneries du voyant
country: Canada, France
year: 2018
genre: documentary
directed by: Aïda Maigre-Touchet
film run: 72'
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