La traversee

Winner of the prestigious Jean Vigo Prize in 1998 for Les Corps ouverts, director Sebastien Lifshitz is best known for Presque rien (Almost Nothing), an unconventional love story about two 18-year-old boys who experience the fleeting upheaval of a summer crush. For his new film, Lifshitz turned to his long-time collaborator and co-writer Stephane Bouquet for inspiration. Bouquet was born the son of a single mother whose boyfriend, an American soldier, was one of 26,000 U.S. troops once stationed in France before being ordered out by Charles de Gaulle. Bouquet’s father didn’t know his girlfriend was pregnant when he left France, and the couple lost contact.
‘By the time I was born,’ says Bouquet, ‘my father had already returned to the United States. For reasons I was never able to discover, my mother didn’t want to tell him about me. And, on the rare occasions that I could persuade her to do so, she was reluctant, so I didn’t have the heart to ask too many questions. All I know about him is his name, date and that he was a soldier.’
Bouquet’s curiosity about his father sparked interest from Lifshitz, who suggested they go in search of the father and make a film about their quest. The result is not so much a documentary as a quiet meditation on identity, belonging and life on the road in the U.S.
France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 81 min.

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