I Remember Nothing

Nick Holdsworth on First Lights selection I Remember Nothing by Diana Sara Bouzgarrou (international premiere).

I Remember Nothing (Je ne me souviens de rien, Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, 2017)

Opening with a shot from the director's handheld video camera in a shared apartment, as she and her flatmates drink champagne and toast each other's health, the introspective style of I Remember Nothing is immediately apparent.

A rapid sequence of video images - shots of mobile phone message screens, the director's half naked reflection in a bathroom mirror, random items of clothing and street shots - flash before one's eyes like the fragmented jigsaw of the previous night on the morning one awakes with a crashing hangover. It is a giddy introduction to what is to come.

This is how Diane Sara Bouzgarrou announces her video investigation into an amnesiac period in her life. As she writes in her own notes about the film: "As the revolution bursts in Tunisia, my father’s country, I am being diagnosed bipolar while experiencing an intense manic episode. I am left almost entirely amnesiac. Five years later, I find hours of footage showing everything I had gone through. The project of this film: to recover my memory and show the reality of this condition."

The project began five years after a month-long stay in a psychiatric clinic. By sifting through hundreds of hours of videos, dozens of photographs and two notebooks full of writings and drawings, she begins to piece together elements of the unsolved puzzle of her memory.

The resulting film questions the nature of memory itself, as well as how the mind works. For anyone who has ever come across a faded photograph or a letter written long ago and realised they have no recollection whatsoever of those events, this is compelling viewing.

A mixture of experimental filmmaking, home video and reportage, I Remember Nothing is by turns unsettling, intimate, and even at times facile. To what extent do we really share the director's intimate struggles with her memory and self? To what extent is her life like that of all of us, made up of mundane moments, where love sometimes has the power to keep the overwhelming tides of meaninglessness at bay?

It's not an easy film to watch as her sea of images brings the viewer back time and again to their own life and petty concerns. As honest as a curated array of images can be, it conveys the truth of a young woman's experience in recovering a portion of her life lost to mental anguish.

Random shots peer out of car windows, inside trains at night, and at fragments of art installations and her artist friends. There’s a late night insomniac attempt to compose a song called "Take Care of Yourself and Shut the Fuck Up," with Diane talking directly to the camera, her face framed in a dark frizz of hair with a crucifix of beams on the ceiling above her. it is clear that her agony is here, in a jumble of scattered pieces from which she hopes to retrieve meaning and pattern.

Diane has moments of clarity from that time, fireworks on New Year's Eve and other fragments. But the trauma of her hospitalisation, seen here in fragmentary episodes that reflect the disintegration she experienced at the time, seems to have wiped her memory clean.Only by investigating her personal past through video and other artefacts is she able to reclaim those lost years.

In I Remember Nothing Diane understands that time lost is gone forever. She can only strive to turn personal loss into art, as she acknowledges in her final statement: ”This notion of a time lost, which we'll never make up for.”|

Nick Holdsworth  

Nick Holdsworth is a writer, journalist and filmmaker with 25 years’ experience of covering Russian and Eastern European affairs. He has served as Moscow correspondent for the (London) Sunday Telegraph, the (London) Times Higher Education Supplement and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and also Variety. He has also produced radio programmes for the BBC and television reports for WTN.

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starší články

October 23, 2017

from current issue:

New releaseShooting About KunderaDocumentarian Miloslav Šmídmajer describes the process of making a documentary about Milan Kundera with the working title “Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance.” Miloslav ŠmídmajerThemeNest in the bedroomPeter Hames, well-known British film historian and author of the book The Czechoslovak New Wave sent his remembrance to Karel Vachek to our magazine.Peter HamesThemeNever stop laughingPaolo Benzi, the Italian film producer and founder of the independent film production company Okta Film, describes for dok.revue how he met famous Czech documentary filmmaker Karel Vachek, who passed away last year. Paolo Benzi is also the main tutor of the Emerging producers in Ji.hlava IDFF.Paolo BenziThemeBehold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightenedIn this English issue of dok.revue we have collected some remembrances to Karel Vachek, the respected Czech documentarist who died in December 2020 at the age of 80. One of the contributors is Olaf Möller, a well-known film theorist and critic collaborating with many renowned film magazines (Film Comment or Sight & Sound), film museums and festivals (e.g. Il Cinema Ritrovato or International Film Festival Rotterdam).Olaf MöllerThemeEvery human being should get to wear comfy shoesThe Czech documentarist Karel Vachek was a chairperson of the jury at Yamagata international documentary film festival (YIDFF) in 2009. The board member of YIDFF and the former director of this festival, Asako Fujioka, has a remembrance of him smoking his pipe and going to the mountains with Japanese poet and filmmaker Yoshimasu Gozo to recite poetry to the skies.Asako FujiokaThemeLike the dog on the beach...American film historian Alice Lovejoy writes her remembrance of Karel Vachek, the remarkable Czech documentarist to whom we dedicate this English issue of dok.revue.Alice LovejoySportPandemic as an opportunityJi.hlava's Emerging Producers discuss the opportunity that can emerge from crisisSteve RickinsonInterviewThe times of lifelong careers are overAn interview with documentarian Jindřich Andrš, whose film A New Shift won the Czech competition section Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF2020.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewGoing to the Polish Turf with Our Own TeamInterview with documentary filmmakers Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák about their latest joint film project Once Upon a Time in Poland that shows how religion and faith are misused in contemporary Poland for mass manipulation and political purposes. The film‘s Czech premiere was held as part of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2020.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionDok.revue 1.21This issue is dedicated to the doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel VachekKamila Boháčková