2016, 16mm film transferred to 2K video. Stereo sound, 26 min
The subjects of Dreyfus/Méliès—Alfred Dreyfus, a young, French, Jewish military officer, accused of being a German spy, as well as George Méliès, the filmmaker who dramatized Dreyfus’s story—are the launching points for this work. Filmed in French Guiana, where Dreyfus was imprisoned after his conviction in 1894, La Solitude opens with shots of the Devil’s Island shack where Dreyfus was incarcerated.
As the film progresses, it presents various aspects of life in French Guiana today: a mash-up of the effects of Colonialization. In short vignettes, Evron presents the nation’s diverse inhabitants who descend from indigenous populations, African slaves, and European colonists at work and play. From cities to undeveloped jungle, he examines natural history museums, streets named for French artists and composers, and suburban golf courses, and modest villages. Perhaps most unexpected is the presence of Centre Spatial Guyanais, a French and European spaceport first opened in 1965.
The voice-over narrative that accompanies the film is a complex blend of commissioned passages that weave together the lives of Dreyfus and Méliès, with three other historical figures who made significant contributions to the Dreyfus affair, the history of filmmaking, and ethnography. By linking these historical figures, Evron makes a case for the Dreyfus affair as the first modern international media event. Additionally, Evron refers to his own position within this enterprise in self-reflexive moments, such as in the middle of the film when the narrative considers the sometimes problematic relationship between “the photographer” and his subject. (LR)