Blue Bird
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    Blue Bird

    Directed by

    Belgium

    2011

    78 min

    • French

    Fantasy

    Cannes IFF - Directors' Fortnight

    Blue Bird is a story about how one day in a child's life can change its world. One morning, Bafiokadié and his sister Téné, two African children, leave their village. The only thing on their mind is to find their lost blue bird before the day is over. But they will find much more along their way: they encounter their deceased grand-parents, they fight the soul of the forest and learn from the Chief of Pleasure. Everyone tells them a story about life and death. At the end of their long journey, the brother and sister enter the Kingdom of the Future and meet some yet-to-be born children. Delighted with this discovery, they eventually return home. For as we lose something we gain something.

    Awards

    Show All Awards Show Less Awards
    • Special Mention, New Cinema FF

    Credits

    Cast
    Bafiokadié Potey
    Téné Potey
    Nanty Libéria Bani
    Dodji N'Dah
    N’Tcha Emmanuel Sansamou
    Screenplay
    Gust Van den Berghe
    Cinematography
    Hans Bruch Jr.
    Editing
    David Verdurme
    Music
    Alexander Zhikarev
    Michel Bisceglia

    Director's Statement

    I filmed BLUE BIRD in Tamberma territory, basing it on a story written by Maurice Maeterlinck. The Tamberma people and their connection with nature drew me to film it there. They believe that each thing has a soul, that each tree, each rock has its place in space and time. They treat their elders with great respect because it is the old people who best understand nature and obey its laws. Children are sacred, for the Tamberma people believe that they come from the divine and can still observe a world that adults can no longer see. The outlook that the Tamberma people have on life and death corresponded to the way I interpreted Maeterlinck’s story. Babies are believed to come from another world and old people are preparing to return to that world. This is why the latter take care of the former. BLUE BIRD talks about children growing up, whether they are Tamberma or from anywhere else in the world. And this concept of a path between life and death, connecting two worlds, was something I saw in Maeterlinck’s story (even if it isn’t stated explicitly), as well as in the Tamberma people.
    With BLUE BIRD, I wanted to distance myself as much as possible from the stereotypical Africa, the ever-suffering Africa, but without necessarily falling into the trap of “exoticization”. I researched the authenticity of the Tamberma beliefs and traditions and these were a source of inspiration for BLUE BIRD.
    BLUE BIRD is a universal story and I told it with little or no financial backing. Working in this way is not without risk, but I benefited from an extraordinary freedom. This freedom is intrinsic to the project: it is freedom for the director to interpret the text as he chooses, but also the freedom the audience has vis-à-vis the film. This is what I want to offer to the public: neither truths nor answers that are ready-made, but a chance to participate in the construction of the film. A good story cannot bear fruit until after it has been told. It’s the same for a film. Just as we cannot judge a man’s journey until he’s taken his final bow.
    I know only one thing and that is that I know nothing and that life only has meaning if I persist in searching for its meaning. Filming is the product of this search, made of intuition and contemplation. Throughout the shoot, all I am doing is capturing with my camera what is happening just beyond our peripheral vision. The invisible is fascinating. It asks a question that is more interesting than its eventual response: that of knowing what motivates us and nourishes our imagination and our dreams. Analysis comes later, when, in the editing phase, everything must become factual and conform to the story. With BLUE BIRD, I wanted to do what a painter does, even more in method than in form, by considering my gestures as being as irreversible as the ones that take away a canvas’s virginity. A painter is not concerned with mirroring when he paints; he trusts his impulses and follows his instinct, he becomes one with line, surface and color. It is only once the painting is complete that he can get some distance. And once again just be an artist, intrigued by what he has created.

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    Press

    The blue-tinged infusion of images throughout the film, rather than detract, adds to the beautiful simplicity of the cinematography... Devoid of any special effects or fancy camera work, the story nonetheless unfolds as a magical mystery – a spiritual road journey.

    MsWOO, Shadow and Act (IndieWire)

    Part ethnographic tone poem, part magical folktale.

    David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

    A charmingly enigmatic story of two young children, a blue bird and some thoughtful meditations on life, death and everything in between.

    Mark Adams, Screen Daily

    A tale that jogs alongside Maeterlinck for a while but then goes off on its own direction, refracting the story through an indigenous, tribal sensibility.

    Leslie Felperin, Variety

    Gust Van den Berghe

    Gust Van den Berghe

    Belgium

    Gust Van den Berghe graduated filmschool in 2010 with his debute feature LITTLE BABY JESUS OF FLANDR. A year later he made his second film BLUE BIRD, both premiered at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes. In 2012 he wrote and directed an opera for a young audience QUEEN OF THE NIGHT, a free adaptation on Mozarts Magic flute. LUCIFER is his third film and also the final piece of a filmic tryptic.

    Selected Filmography