senior government security officers, the spectators waited with impatience the first projections in the central African republic from Camille , the film that traces the last months of the life of the photojournalist French Camille Lepage, killed at the height of the civil war that tore this country. They wanted to discover on the big screen the story of this young woman of 26 who had criss-crossed the streets of Bangui, before his death on may 6, 2014, when she accompanied the militia on patrol.

” READ ALSO – Two exhibitions in memory of the photographer Camille Lepage, five years after his death.

“The neighborhood, everyone knew Camille, and everyone wants to see the film,” said Armand, as a security officer. But only a few thousand people have been invited to sit on the parking lot of the Alliance française of Bangui, transformed for three nights, from Friday to Sunday, in the open-air cinema. The lights go out. A roar of the engine opens the first scene, where the French soldiers are going to discover the body of the journalist in the back of a pick up truck, surrounded by armed men gesticulants.

A clamor accompanies the appearance of the militia. A lot of extras are present in the audience, with families and friends. And this is the first time that viewers have seen of fellow-countrymen in a foreign film. On the screen, they reproduce the conflict between the militia, self-proclaimed of”self-defense” (antibalakas), Camille Lepage accompanied at the time of his death, the coalition séléka, which had overthrown president François Bozizé in 2013.

“It will be up to them to tell their story”

This is the culmination of a project launched in 2016 by the French director Boris Lojkine: turn this film in a very poor country still in the grip of the daily violence, lack of technical means and where the last cinema closed for decades. And thus contribute to “the development of a cinema of the central african republic”. Upstream of the filming, the French Alliance had trained a generation of young filmmakers with film-making techniques. Many of them have been involved in the project as assistants or as actors, and now devote to their own achievements.

“It will be up to them to tell their story,” recalls Boris Lojkine, which takes care of any ownership. “ Camille tells the story of Camille, not that of the central African republic”, he explains. But if the film was, for the time, well received in Europe, where it received the audience award at the Locarno film festival, this is the Car that can validate the realism and accuracy of a work referring to a page of its history, especially painful. “The audience is going to relive the worst moments in the history of Bangui. The movie touches on this very front-end”, warned the director before the screening.

“Everything that interests you, it is coming to take your photos ! You come, you take, and you will leave !”

Replica the film Camille

barely six years after the beginning of the civil war, and then as militias continue to battle, the wounds are still raw. The images of dead bodies lying in the streets or piled up at the community hospital surface support, suddenly enveloped in a thick silence. A few tears flow. “The film has aroused bitter feelings,” says Tanguy, a central African recruited as assistant director. “But it is necessary. Somehow, it is an archive which should remind the people of Car how far can go a human being,” he adds.

As this violent scene of the lynching, which made glimpses of a malaise in the public. It is necessary, or not, show these images? The heroine and her fellow journalists who have photographed the scene to ask themselves the question, and are taken from a doubt terrible: the victim would have been slain if it had not been for cameras?

FLORENT vergnes worked/AFP

“If he does not venture to shred the memory of Camille Lepage, whose simplicity and character are brilliantly rendered by the actress Nina Meurisse, the film does not hesitate to question the commitment and motivations of this young European outcome of a bourgeois milieu. “Do you think you’re better than the other?”, if that annoys and a militia leader antibalaka when the heroine tries to dissuade him to carry out reprisals. “Anything that interests you, it is coming to take your photos! You come, you take, and you will leave!”

” READ ALSO – A place inaugurated in Paris in tribute to three journalists killed in Africa

The reply of the chief, raised a thunder of applause. This time, it is on the side of many expatriates also present in the audience that the discomfort is palpable. And if the cheers and laughter that punctuate the projection testify to the accuracy of the dialogues and situations, the cheers seem to sometimes take on a whole new meaning: when they greet each other, for example, a group of militiamen antibalakas unloading their guns on fighters of the rebellion Séléka.

Camille – trailer