Programmed by Jean-Marie Barbe
In June 2014, the manager of the Bel Maille textile factory announced to his staff that the firm was going into receivership. Following the pace set by the machines, the story that plays out over subsequent months introduces us to extra-ordinary, clear-sighted men and women who, to the very end, face reality without resigning themselves to their fate.
Although the Bel Maille factory workers are actors in a fiction film about industrial decline that’s shot in the factory, the reality of going into receivership catches up with them. This mise en abyme is just one of the documentary’s singularities. Charlotte Pouch manages to film a worried community of workers, often united as one block, a working-class block that fully emerges during the meetings with the CEO. Following the company director’s dealings with the workers over time is relentless for two reasons: it structures the film’s timescale and exposes, to a certain extent, the manager’s incompetence, not to say greed. One of the movie’s strengths is also down to its director’s meticulous filming of the factory and its almost silent machines. The surreal bright white light of the place, the hi-tech equipment and the precise movements of the work all give it the feel of a modern laboratory, making a change from the usual clichés of noisy factory floors, and making it even more shocking as the reality of its approaching closure becomes clear.
Producer, Editorial Coordinator of Tënk and Co-founder of the États Généraux du Film Documentaire de Lussas