Memories From Gehenna
(Souvenirs de la Géhenne), dir.Thomas Jenkoe (2015), France , 56 min.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
6:45 pm - 7:50 pm
Violet Crown Cinema - A
200 West Main St,
More than a decade after a local man gunned down a North African immigrant, director Jenkoe visits the suburban port of Grande-Synthe in Northern France (not far away from Calais and Le Havre) and finds a town still deeply scarred. Jenkoe’s camera tours the town but keeps a respectful distance, while a soundtrack of interviews with locals and police tapes of the murderer’s interrogation creates a timely, shattering portrait of how fear and hate corrupt.
With a voice-over reading statements from the case file that he was exceptionally allowed to access, Jenkoe interlaces impressive shots of the urban landscape and on-the-spot testimonies, stories, rumors, comments. The weave becomes tighter and tighter and what first appear to be no more than architectural features help to construct the diabolical dramaturgy of “Gehenna.” Rarely has a news item been so deeply explored both from the angle of the killer’s background and the daytime and night-time filming of a town “hemmed in” by an immense metallurgical industrial complex (ArcelorMittal). While the editing and sound echo the amalgamation that results in irreparable damage, they create a tension between scales, which cinematographically recreates a contemporary malaise extending far beyond the boundary of Grande-Synthe. C Garson