France, 52 min
“A surly, clever and sensitive cobbler, Léon Maghazadjan has been repairing shoes in his district for 47 years. He’s a star. With one hint after another, he announces his forthcoming retirement. Desolation ensues.” (A. Cavalier) Léon is more than a cobbler. He is the secret soul of a place. He does not just look after the shoes of the inhabitants of his district. He listens to all the stories that go along with it: the confidences from a penniless little world, the joyful mockery of young people, the difficulties of old people living in solitude. His strong-featured face is often serious and harsh, but a witticism is enough to bring a broad smile to it. Like Cavalier’s other portraits, this too is open to encounter. The camera is constrained, filming in a confined space. So it approaches its subject and brings nice surprises, such as when it captures Léon’s secret moments. His retirement has the magnitude of a farewell to the stage. His customer friends accompany his departure with joy and emotion. Although left empty, his small professional space lingers on as the centre of the world.