Shot in Albania and Southern Italy, Pierre Maillard offered moviegoers gathered early in the morning a beautiful film. The director was present at the screening at the Montreal World Film Festival and took the time to say a few words before the start of his film, Across the Sea. It was presented for the second time at the festival and he was honoured to present his work.
Across the Sea begins with black and white war photos, each more brutal than the last. These pictures show dead children, corpses and blood. We understand later that these images were captured by Jean, a former war photographer who now does photography of trees. While the music is very loud, the last photographs are striking. A woman is held against her will. She is then hung from a tree and burned. Her body falls to the ground. The picture is no longer black and white. This woman has an important meaning for further events of the film.
Across the Sea tells the story of Jean, a photographer, who travels to Albania to shoot trees. This becomes an escape for him, his only way to forget the horror of war. This is not his first visit to Albania. He returns to the scene where he photographed the girl in flames. Among the trees on the way back to the past, he discovers a young girl hidden. He does not know who she is, where she comes from, but their fate binds the first moments of their encounter.
This film is a breathtaking beauty. The images are beautiful and the cinematography is outstanding. Much attention was paid to the aesthetics, which are carried by a discreet music that is never intrusive. Albania is an empty country, there are only plains, beginnings or remains of buildings. The director said that the face of the current Albania, the land had transformed the film. The characters are in constant motion, whether it be on land or on water.
The fable of the film, as mentioned by the director, is that we cannot escape reality. It always catches us. There is no point in running, it’s always ahead of you. Photographing trees is one way the character of Jean uses to come to terms with himself, his past and the war. He finds peace in nature. Then the fate of John and the girl who will be on the run will cross the fate of others. All these people that vibrate in unison for a better world. The promise of the dream of a tomorrow that surpasses yesterday. The subject of the film, although it is not thought by this theme is very topical: migrants. We hear a lot about several thousand people fleeing their countries to Europe, but sometimes their escape ends in tragedy. This is where this film is great; in its ability to interweave the fate of people who do not know each other, but who dreams the same thing. Across the Sea is a touching film that makes you think about our world and our common destiny.
Across the Sea screened as part of the Montreal World Film Festival.