In her film “The Super 8 Years” presented at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, the Norman writer Annie Ernaux recounts the decade that made her one of the greatest voices in French literature.
Presented on Monday May 23, 2022 at the Directors’ Fortnight, The super 8 years was born from the desire to reclaim dozens of super 8 films shot between 1972 and 1981 by her ex-husband, Philippe Ernaux, now deceased. “It is both the story of my life but also that of thousands of women” explains the Lillebonnais author Annie Ernaux.
“These films had been stored in a drawer for years and had been somewhat forgotten. One day we watched them with my sons and grandchildren. It was there, one thing leading to another, that David offered me to make a film out of it, to which I would add a story.”tell to AFP the 81-year-old novelist.
If the idea of making films never really interested her, Annie Ernaux left herself “take to the game”
: “I really got involved in this story that we hear because it was important for me to tell myself in my own words”, specifies the one who was a finalist for the prestigious international Booker Prize in 2019.
A film about her beginnings as a writer
In the film, the viewer discovers a married Annie Ernaux with two young children. Each time, the writer is in the foreground, omnipresent. But on closer inspection, it is a frail woman, uncomfortable in her new life that the public meets.
A woman torn between her duties as a wife, her bourgeois life, she defected from class as she told in her book The placeand his irrepressible desire to write.
It was also at this time that she wrote her first book. Empty Cabinets in 1974.
Not a film of memories, it documents, of course, the years that forged her as a writer but also describes an era, that of the glorious Thirties and the thirst for life of a generation in search of emancipation, leisure and travel. .
Today read, translated and studied all over the world, Annie Ernaux nevertheless took several years to emancipate herself from her domestic life in order to write.
“I can affirm that these ten years are the major years in my life because they will confirm my desire to write. And then also because I’m going to win my freedom. A freedom that I suffered from not having, even if I think that I made a marriage of love.
Reach a wider audience through cinema
“I think that for the spectator, it is perhaps a story that is new, really new for him, to see me and to hear me tell things about my intimacy and at the same time, this intimacy belongs to everyone. world “she continues.
Ultimately, “it is both the story of my life but also that of thousands of women who have also been in search of freedom and emancipation”.
If several of his books have been adapted to the cinema, including The eventautobiographical account of the clandestine abortion she suffered in 1964, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2021, Annie Ernaux says she is not interested in this medium.
The reason ? “I write with inner images, images from memory. The writing process for film is very different,” she explains.
At a time when the right to abortion is questioned in the United States, what does the woman whose work is crossed by these questions think? “I think we could have waited for this conservative wave because when women take power… or rather when their voices are raised, men are in solidarity with each other”, she answers. And to add “that in France as in the United States, women are no longer willing to let things go”.
A true feminist icon for several generations, the Norman novelist Annie Ernaux simply confides that she feels ” women. A woman who writes, that’s all”.
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Cannes Film Festival: Norman writer Annie Ernaux presents her film “The Super 8 Years”