White Material, Claire Denis, Frantzia/Francia, 2007, 102' 35mm JB/VO FR, Azp/Sub ES
“No more smirking. We're stopping the bullshit right now and staying put.” The regular army is preparing to reestablish order in the country. To clean up. To eliminate the rebel officer also known as The Boxer and rid the countryside of roving child soldiers. All the expatriates have gone home, getting out before things turn nasty. Of the Vials - coffee planters who have lived here for two generations - Maria stands firm. She’s not about to give in to rumors or abandon her harvest at the first sound of gunfire. Just like her father-in-law and her ex-husband who is also the father of her son (a little too much of a slacker in her opinion) she is convinced that Cherif, mayor of the neighboring town, will protect them. If she asks him, he will save the plantation. He has a personal guard, a private militia of tough guys, heavily armed and well trained.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT: Had I burdened it with all the intentions I wanted, this film would have sunk like an overladen container ship. Luckily, at every stage - from the writing with Marie, to the location scouting, to the shoot - at every stage we jettisoned them. It remains, nonetheless, the conduit of a primitive, visceral obsession - fortitude struggling against lassitude, against slackness. I’d like to dedicate this film to Sony Labou Tansi for his novels, his plays, for the Rocado Zulu Theatre Company, for his struggle against rotten luck. He said, “We didn't invent the wheel. We handled that which is found only in the great works of poetry - the sap of the world.” (Les Yeux du Volcan) - Claire Denis