Programmed by Maïté Peltier
Laosan, a young family man, spends all his time smoking opium. For his community, lost in the heart of the Laotian jungle, opium farming is the only way to survive. But opium is also the poison that puts men to sleep and kills their desires.
Laosan, barely past adolescence, is consumed in opium fumes while his partner labours in the fields. His family and a handful of Akha peasants in North Laos are fighting to continue to grow this plant even though it’s gradually killing them. Nicolas Graux films close-ups of the bodies of these men overwhelmed by the heat and eaten away by opiates, and these women carrying out their back-breaking tasks. He captures this fragile equilibrium with sensitivity, trying to understand the disarray of some of them and the anger of the others. Hazy and atmospheric, “Century of Smoke” progresses with visual and audio tableaux in the midst of the luxuriant, beautiful and cruel natural surroundings. As they confide in us, we learn of a population’s harsh existence and the resistance of the women who singlehandedly take responsibility for the survival of the entire community while their only dream is to leave.
Head of Programming for the Filmer le Travail Festival