A film by François Caillat

Documentary / 72 min / France / 2022

Language: French

Subtitles: English

With: Edouard Louis

Press kit


The metamorphosis of a young boy from a sub-proletarian background in Picardie into a star of French cultural life. Édouard Louis, who in a few years has become the spokesman writer of a generation, encourages each of us to make permanent transformation a new way of life. 

Official selections


Director’s note

At a time of debate about gender, identity, belonging, and borders, this film seeks to represent the issue differently. It seeks to go beyond the strict opposition between oneself and others, it imagines a fluid passage between « here » and « elsewhere ». It dreams that one can be able to transport oneself, make oneself different, modify oneself at will: to go through a permanent transformation. 

The writer Édouard Louis embodies such a process.  

Here is a young man who has not stopped transforming himself for twenty years. His entire career has been marked by renewal. 

At the end of the 1980s, the young man accomplished a first metamorphosis in Amiens. Leaving his sub-proletarian village environment, he discovered the bourgeois city and its children who had a strong cultural capital. He wanted to acquire its codes. He changed his habits, his language, his body… and finally his first and last names. He invented a new character for a second life. 

Once this metamorphosis was complete, he went to Paris. There he built a third life for himself. In a few years, he became one of the most mediatized players of the French cultural life. 

Édouard Louis had said little about this spectacular personal and social transformation up to that point. This film is an illustrated and critical account of this transformation. 

It is an embodied story of transformation. 

François Caillat, The Director of absence, seen by Patricio Guzmán (filmmaker)

One could say that François Caillat is a filmmaker of the word. Because, without a doubt, a significant part of his documentary work is based on the voice of the narrator, on a voice that tells. 

There is a way of narrating, making up stories, or commenting on facts, which form « a Caillat style » and which constitute the structure of his documentaries. 

One could not understand his works without this voice, which outlines the true development of the story. 

However, where do these voices come from? On which images does François Caillat begin to speak? 

This is one of the surprises of this author’s language. 

Caillat speaks of death while we see a wood at dusk. 

He talks about money while we see a stretch of water. 

He talks about the world war while we watch a bird fly. 

He almost never talks about what we see on the screen. 

However, behind these images that have no apparent relation to the text, we begin to « visualise » the story he is telling us, that is, we begin to see what is not seen. 

We still have to reveal François Caillat’s second secret.  

This brilliant director introduces us to the world of 8 mm. Caillat uses long fragments of 8 mm film that he shoots with his own camera. 

These are fleeting, unforeseen visions that come to us like gusts of wind: fallen trees, church towers, railway tracks, smoking chimneys, silent rivers. 

These are images that often appear without their original sound, which arrive enveloped by a gentle gust of wind, or with almost inaudible, minimalist, mysterious music that transports us to an unreal reality… 

The slightly blurred texture of 8 mm, its lack of definition, its lightness, its weightlessness, open the door to a documentary fantasy. 

The third secret is that he refilms twice, on different occasions. 

On the wall of his home, he projects his 8mm images, then films them again with a film, which multiplies the texture of the 8mm. In other words, he makes his own archive on the wall of his home. By framing for the second time, Caillat transforms the 8mm into a dreamlike medium, into a substance that seems to come from another time. 

All this without even mentioning the science of editing, which he deepens with each film, with the magic of the associations between nature and human beings, which he offers us in an unexpected way. 

The Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán, author of a renowned body of work (from « La Batalla de Chile » to his latest film « The Cordillera of Dreams »), created and directs the FIDOCS festival in Santiago de Chile. He has written this presentation text for François Caillat’s visit to FIDOCS with six of his films. 






25 April 2023