RIDM – (FILM FESTIVALS.COM)
(…)While as previously said of Krueger’s “Madness of Reason” being an attempt at a monumental project, one might begin to question the film for just that reason itself. In being a monumental attempt, the film might have missed the “uncalculated”, “the imperfections”, silences that make cinema often a haven for ruminating a sparking a light into hitherto not thought of arenas and feelings.
This thought about “The Madness of Reason” becomes especially apparent, when one looks at what might just be the RIDM festival’s true hidden gem, Joris Lachaise’s “Ce qu’il reste de la folie” (“What Remains of Madness”), which also casts an eye on post colonial Africa. This time, the eye is cast on a psychiatric hospital in Dakar.
The film is nothing short of a mini masterpiece. This thanks in no small part to one of his guides Khady Sylla, also interned at the psychiatric institute and also a filmmaker. I had sadly never heard of her before. Her presence in the film as patient at the psychiatric hospital is subtle, light, and purely visceral every time she speaks. Finding out after that she actually also was a noted Senegalese writer has been pure pleasure. She unfortunately passed away in 2013.
In “Ce Qu’il Reste de la Folie”, one is reminded of 2013‘s mini masterpiece, “Mille Soleil” by Mati Diop, in range, depth, and those pure “quietnesses” that allow the viewer to come into their own; not the explaining away as “The Madness of Reason” might be a bit “guilty” of .
The first interesting thing in “Ce qu’il reste de la Folie, is that it is not till almost 3/4 into the film that we actually start to see details of the psychiatric facility. It is clear from the get go, again from much of the film’s “quitenesses” punctuated by only essential information that comes through in the only essential sparse dialogues, that the filmmaker is not there to judge. It is clear the filmmaker ( who met Jean Rouch in his youth) is not there to judge whether the psychiatric facility works, whether the head psychiatrist is progressive or not, whether the better treatment might be traditional medicine like divination to get rid of the bad spirits of madness, whether traditional medicine or western medicine is better, and who is to blame for all this madness.
I have read separately Khady Sylla’s own ideas on a local kind of madness. Madness after all must have its site specific vectors. And the filmmaker brings us into the wellspring territory of looking into madness in that place and time. Bottom line is we get all the information we need. We can decide or not decide for ourselves. The ride is purely interesting enough.
When patient Khady in one of her few dialogues mentions Michel Foucault and then speaks about the fact that now that they are in an urban environment (Dakar), they must have acquired something of the madness of the occidental metropole and that hence Western medicine might in fact now be applicable, she divests the whole project of blame and questions the traditional vs Western medicine “dilemma” and tries to look at the problem itself. Just these two sentences by Khady make watching this film essential.
As Khady Sylla, says in another context, describing her own films on madness in Dakar, “A little while after over-exposing the film, I fell sick and crossed over to the other side. I saw what others did not see: the dislocated eye, antiquity of the glass bubble, the sky that had fallen too low, the horizon that come too close, I experienced the real interior.” There is curiously and refreshingly not any easy resort to a colonial past, like we will see in Report #2 or #3 which discusses Hubert Sauper’s eagerly awaited follow up to “Darwin’s Nightmare”, “We Come as Friends”. Madness is seen for itself, in “Ce Qu’il Reste de La Folie”, something ineluctable to describe but yet real.
We will not use the often used film epitaph, “ haunting” to describe, “Ce qu’il reste de la Folie”. “Ce Qu’il Reste de La Folie” is rather like a well hung horizon the filmmaker is painting and we watch his painting the whole length of the film.
The presence of a character (and no better word describes him), of a real life patient at the psychiatric hospital (and the camera is not always lingering on the “mad” like in some films) launches the viewer into a kind of comfortable perplexed state. FIrst watching him, we are actually not sure if he is the mad.
Elegantly dressed (he goes through an elegant change of clothes daily) and actually physically resembling the Senegalese director Djibril Mambéty, we are presented with an unforgettable character (yes a cliche expression but he truly is unforgettable).
This character in “Ce Qu’il Reste de la Folie, in his initial movements in the film, moves with the carefulness of a butoh dancer, observant like a scientist, and then we only very late in the film realize that this character may actually be “suffering” from madness. We come to realize that he is emblematic of man stuck at the other side of nation.
At one point, when this character begins to start acting a little bit like one of Jean Rouch’s lieutenant’s in the Les Maitres Fous, this character in “Ce Qu’il Reste de la Folie”, asks his “partner”, Khady Sylla to call the president, and we begin to understand the question that one other man (“patient”) asks about “madness”.
This is not about colonialism, not perhaps even totally about the nation, but truly about the almost phenomenological condition that madness maybe. Again as the perceptive Khady Sylla asks of the chief psychiatrist- “I have been with you 18 year and just actually wondering what my diagnostic might be”. His answer hushed and uninterested as he decides to not even get off the phone call is on to answer her serious question.
The viewer might then say, dam system, dam nation but ultimately as in my case as a viewer one might ask oneself about understanding this sort of state of grace mixed with “stuckness” that the patients are in. Who might be these lost initiates of higher states of night that the world we are now in might be in search of either yesterday or tomorrow.
“Ce Qu’il Reste de la Folie” as its title might be hinting at might be asking – what is left of a certain madness that flits and flutters between illness and higher states of grace. The filmmaker clearly shows aspects of madness and its discussion as people living on a precipe.
From the film’s no frill’s yet incredible (but not over aestheticized) photography to it’s refusal to (impose any judgements) judge anyone or anything, with its silent way of telling, Joris Lachaise’s “Ce Qu’ilReste de la Folie”, is truly a 2014 major documentary find.