Present Perfect tells the story of a journey. A journey to forget. A journey to find oneself. A journey to remember, so far as to forget oneself. A one-way trip, of which no one gets out unharmed.
Birth of the project :
Five years ago we met in Paris ; just one year before Andy, a farmer living just above Delphi in a remote mountain valley where he raises sheep and grows wheat, oats, clover, fruits and vegetables, entered in our lives. Sophie met him in 2009 and Florence in 2012. We both felt the need, at different points in our lives to leave the city, to find a place and a time of rest through the everyday work in direct contact with the ground and for horizons, deprived of buildings, street lights, posters, urban noises.
Once arrived, we found a man with a unique course of life, often contradictory, who doesn’t fully belong in Greece : a man impossible to simply summarize in his existence as a farmer. One rainy afternoon, on a rather sleazy terrace on Place d’Italy in Paris, with a coffee in our hands, the idea of making a film together was born. A shared sensibility for life and film, and the desire to put across - through Andy’s story – questions about memory and descent, essential to us both, are what drives this project. Present Perfect has become the story of an individual, and, with the addition of a voice-over in the first person who guides the film, of two individuals ; but it’s also our story, and, in the end, a more universal story about filiation.
Florence et Sophie
What is the documentary about ?
Present Perfect covers various stages of a inner journey, in time. It is a work of memory, but also one of amnesia. The encounter with the character of Andy, arouses in the adolescent ‘I’ reflexions about themes reaching from the story of Genesis and the birth of the tragedy to condemned family lineages, passing via the hope of a possible freedom in relation with one’s destiny. <<How to live with our dreams and obsessions ? Should we fight against our destiny ? Can we tame it ? Can we live without a past, without memory and without name? In short : How to cope with life, or rather our lives ?>> These are some of the questions evoked by the youg woman, represented in the form of the voice-over in the first person, and who brings a fictional aspect to the documentary portrait of Andy. She will hold an imaginary dialogue with Andy and with the images. Rather than trying to obtain an objective view of reality, we want this voice-over invested and biased: she transforms Andy’s story in a more personal and at the same time more universal story. Andy, however, always remains at the core of this documentary project and we’ll keep ourselves to what exists in the images and dialogues filmed. His life course and personality spontaneously make us reflect on issues of heritage and fatality; just like, from our side, the unsatisfied need – our phantasy – to leave and look elsewhere.
Images and Sound
The film mainly includes footage shot in Greece, but also images and archive films of Andy’s family, of his childhood in Brasil, of the childhood of his own children in Greece and England, and a sequence of Florence’s grandmother – former pianist – teniously playing a Waltz of Chopin and a Nocturne of Fauré. These themes are remixed to create different variants (transformed sounds, slowdowns, accelerations…) by a post rock-electro composer and musician Ward Dupan, and will be the soundtrack of the film. The filming took place in May 2013 in Greece. We filmed Andy, working his land, walking and feeding his sheep, alone or assisted by his son Nick or his friend Alah, sometimes interacting with us. His weekly baths in the hot springs. We also filmed Andy in his house : an old barn of which he made his home, full of objects, frames and fabrics that exhume memories, and in the houses of where his father and mother grew up by the sea. Finally, we filmed the animals (sheep, cows, mice, frogs, flies and butterflies), the surrounding landscapes, and recorded different sounds of the farm, day and night. The film will often be marked by very light images, sometimes overexposed, in reference to the imaginary of a myth. The repetitive nature of the film is important as it is internal to the notions of descent and filiation : we imagine the same musical theme throughout the whole film, with variations, along with a repetition of images, with some obsessional topics.
Directing : Florence Peeraer & Sophie Samyn
Music : Ward Dupan – composition based on Chopin'Valz and Fauré's Nocturne played by Jeanne Heureux
Editing : Bram Rabaey