Partir? is a documentary co-produced by De l'Autre Côté du Périph' and LUMANCommunications.
Partir? is the question that millions of individuals on the African continent ask themselves. In great numbers, to this date, many are prepared to risk everything to make their way to Europe, to flee poverty in search of a theoretically better life.
In this documentary, Mary-Noël Niba focuses on the tales of migrants and their personal journeys. Far from the familiar images we have seen any number of times, she collects rare stories to provide a unique perspective on clandestine economic immigration.
In front of her lens, Guy Roméo, Stéphane, Boye Gaye, Cheik and Léo recount for the first time their years of exile. People for whom no sacrifice was too great to give themselves and their loved ones a better future.
With the exception of Guy Roméo, all have returned home, profoundly marked by the experience. Despite the years that have gone by, they still feel the consequences of their perilous journey and hostile reception. Like many of those before them, they experience the return home as a failure, and the ostracism they feel back home is a double failure.
In addition to her passion for directing films, Mary-Noël’s job putting her in touch with clandestine migrants in Paris, makes her the daily witness of the dangers faced by African migrants on the journey to Europe, and of the poverty they encounter upon their arrival.
In her personal life, Mary-Noël is also confronted by the phenomenon of clandestine economic migration. A number of her close friends from Cameroon were tempted by the adventure, but failed. This was the case with Stéphane, her adopted brother, and of Léo, her cousin. Returned home after several years of exile, they finally accepted to speak about what is commonly considered as a failure in the eyes of society.
This said, the point of departure for the film is her encounter with Guy Roméo, a young Cameroonian, who left everything behind to go try and meet his idol in France, the rapper Mac Tyer. As a result of the young man’s trauma, Mary-Noël decided to make a film to try and convince Africans not to take the road of exile.
If the question of migration has never been as much in the public eye as today, media outlets rarely address the condition of migrants. Which is why we are determined to use the medium to provoke a collective reflection on this major challenge of the 21st century.
The goal of Partir? is to inform Africans about the dangers of clandestine migration, but also to change attitudes in the West, by hearing the stories of those who, up to now, were locked in silence.
What can we learn from those courageous enough to return? What is their opinion of their experience, in hindsight? How have they managed to reintegrate into society? We hope that their stories will help dissuade other Africans from leaving their countries of birth in search of a mythical El Dorado, and that around the world there will be a debate.
Mary-Noël Niba is the director of many documentaries, including “Le Dos de la Veuve” (The Back of the Widow), ”Yannick ou le pied de l'espoir” (Yannick, or the foot of hope”, ”Double H le brouetteur d'Essos” (Double H, the wheelbarrow man of Essas). She has also created the radio plays, ”L'Héritier de Mellan” (The Heir of Mellan), ”Zéro Ballon” (Zero Ball) and made a feature film called «Claire ou l'enfant de l'amour» (Claire or the love child). She is originally from Cameroon and studied film at ESRA in Paris. Subsequently she obtained an associate degree in visual arts from the University of Valenciennes, and a Masters in the science and techniques of the image and sound professions, from the University of Aix Marseille.
She began her career at CRTV (Cameroon Radio and Television) as a producer of news and informational shows, such as “Thermomètre” and “Recto Verso.” (Front and Back) She also created and presented a program “Le Français tel quel,” a show about the particularities of the French language as spoken in Cameroon, which would make her a well-known figure around the country. Subsequently she worked as the assistant director of production and strategic position of assistant director of marketing and publicity.
Consultant in charge of the “Maison des Savoirs” project at the International Francophonie Organization, she is presently head of public relations for the Cameroonian embassy in Paris. As an independent film maker and producer, she is the founder of Luman Communications, a production and distribution company headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Ever since the creation of DACP ten years ago, Laurence Lascary has produced over 40 short films, four documentaries and one feature film. DACP supports new directors, those who represent our society in its diversity and differences, devoid of stereotypes and clichés. Our process is to promote talent, originality and engagement in the creation of singular works with universal appeal.
At DACP, the approach is to make diversity banal, always present but without being the subject of the films we produce.
When Mary-Noël Niba presented her project to Laurence Lascary, getting behind such a film was a no-brainer. Partir? is a perfect example of our mission, to make engaged films which both shake up and change mentalities.
Putting together the finances for a documentary is not the easiest thing in the French film world, especially when the project centers on such a complex theme.
Instantly seduced by Mary-Noël’s approach and the social necessity of producing Partir?, we began production with our own funds. We applied for several grants, but none of our requests bore fruit.
Today, this film is creating a lot of buzz, it is urgent to finish it. Which is why we are now appealing to you.
Requests for funding from public institutions are under study, in case of positive answers, these grants would compensate the sums invested by DACP for the shooting of the film.
“I want to make music, and that’s why I set out on the path of exile. I envisioned this exile as if I were a soldier leaving on a mission: I leave on the mission and I return. Except that the mission has taken longer than expected.” Guy-Roméo
Guy-Roméo, aka GDH (General Doctor H-Chelem) is a young Cameroonian with dreams of becoming a rapper. He left Cameroon at the age of 17 and after four years of dangerous journey, finally managed to track down and introduce himself to his idol, Mac Tyer. Presently, he struggles on in the city of Marseille, shuttling between administrative procedures and psychiatric care.
“We drove from eight pm to eight am. When we arrived our stomachs were empty. We were seated, waiting for the foremen to usher us, wave by wave, to the work camp. When we got there we were given rooms. We were nine in a room, some of us slept inside, others didn’t.” Boye Gaye
The daily life of this Senegalese mother was turned upside down the day her government selected her to take part in a program to harvest Spanish fields.
“I thought that Europe was El Dorado. I wanted to change my life, but what happened was the opposite.” Cheikh
Cheikh, a young man of Senegalese origin spent nearly ten years in Europe. He finally returned to Senegal to be with his grandmother. He is bitter about his experience: it was not worth it.
Stéphane and Léo
“I had friends abroad who knew how handy I was and who convinced me that if I left for Europe, there was a good possibility I would improve my situation.” Stéphane
Stéphane, the adopted big brother of Mary-Noël, the director of Partir?, decided a few years back to shut down his business as a mechanic and seek his fortune in Europe. Eight years later, he returned home against his will, with the feeling that he had lost everything.
“Before, I used to say that I preferred to be poor in Europe rather than rich in Africa. Today, I no longer have the same perspective.” Léo
Having left for the West for many years, Léo returned home bitter and penniless. After suffering a bout of depression, he managed to find peace, and is ready to share his story.
Allocation of funds
The film is now in post-production and we are seeking funds so as to finish this stage and find a distributor. Our goal is for Partir? to be seen by as many spectators as possible, all around the world.
We want to be prepared to show the film in as many international film festivals as possible.
This is why we are appealing to you. Your donations will help complement the funds already invested by DACP.
Donations will be used as follows :
• 10 000 Euros to finance a part of the costs of creation and recording of music
• 5 000 Euros allocated to the financing of color correction
• 2 000 Euros to participate in the financing of the sound edit
• 5 000 Euros allocated for editing room rental
If we reach our goal of 22 000 Euros and are fortunate enough to receive even more funds, this would allow us to :
• Pay for the entire color correction (5 000 Euros more)
• Finance the sound mix (10 000 Euros)
• Create screening aids: masters, DCP (Digital Cinema Package), video (7000 Euros more)
• English translation and subtitles (3 000 Euros more)
• Finance the subscription archives mentioned in the documentary (10 000 Euros more)
• Plan a screening-debating tour on the African continent (20 000 Euros more)
• Help the French distributor of the film by contributing to the cost of the film release in cinemas (30 000 Euros more)