Switzerland | 2022 | 66 min
Language : French
Subtitle : English
In 1982, Patrice Berthelot reports on the conditions of his detention in Sion prison through a correspondence with the director Anne Theurillat, who now transforms his words—by turns cheerful or imbued with mellow bitterness—into images, through an inspired cinematic construction. A question remains: is it possible for humanity to exist between four walls?
Following a misdemeanour at the start of the 1980s, Patrice B. was sent to Sion Prison for 500 days. During his detention, he exchanged letters with Anne Theurillat. In Le Pénitencier, the Swiss director decides to report on the discreet strength of these letters through the prism of cinematography. This film thus comprises a mosaic of images: low walls, barriers, wire fences, all kinds of obstructions. The static shots emphasise immobility; escape takes place through writing and words, through the warm, solid and disillusioned voice-over. The quoted text is nicely interspersed with aphorisms, witticisms, anecdotes and everydayness. As the phrases continue, there emerges a refusal to give in to gloominess, the will to fight the intellectual decline of detention; a moral resistance is operating here. The account drifts forward, granting the man a certain humanity by weaving in archival images, images of suspended moments and those of radiant faces. The idea of showing prison without its bursts of violence, preferring instead to seek out lightness even in the most heavily barricaded interstices, is particularly fertile.
William Le Personnic
La Jeune fille et l'amour, 2009
La Dame de Paris, 1988
L'An 2000 à l'école, 1982