Autour du Lac, the Boundless Story

in 37th Annecy International Animated Film Festival

by Giulia Dobre

…The breath of a blue jogger… a disemboweled ants’ nest… a puddle… a few abandoned sandwiches on a bench… a squirrel… a dead, worm-eaten duck… fragments of life (and death) that we encounter on a tireless walk around the lake, following a merciless text and an entire song. A song where the musicians seem to have abused the bottle a bit, hence the sincere and unabashed, Dada-like, “in vino veritas” expression.

Around the Lake (Autour du Lac) is a short animated film written and directed by Carl Roosens and Noémie Marsily, presented in the Short Films Competition at Annecy 2013. It is a film swarming with life and sweat. This visual and sensorial gem uses a mixture of pencil and ink, and has been created during a vibrant residency at the Abbey of Fontevraud in May 2012.

It is a unique project, initially designed only to strengthen the link between image and the music composed by Carl and his band. “Carl et les hommes boîtes”. The result, though, has a strong visual identity and goes far beyond the initial statement. It is a crudely poetical manifesto for a new naturalism, aiming at cleaning up and building above the trivial and the decayed.

Around the Lake is ultimately a story in itself. In 4 minutes and 20 seconds it tells it everything about our eternal (con)damnation as sagacious and inquiring human beings, to always “turn around” our destiny, in a Sisyphean quest. Not solely enclosed in a cardboard box from where we would observe the world through a tiny snatch (matching the name of the band and the inspiring novel by Kobo Abe), we are truly confronting this world: a depraved and often absurd world, alternating images of high beauty, moving colors, and ridiculous situations or characters, weak spots and troubling extreme moments.

The vibrant pencil and ink visuals of the two authors are reminiscent of the dismay of the Weimar generation… Distorted faces as in Otto Dix or George Grosz’s works, illogical associations make us draw attention to the bleak and less visible sides of life, unsparingly depicting a latent kind of violence encountered at every step: unavoidable, suffocating.

The text is chanted, narrated, sometimes sung. It talks about the images we see, about people’s backs, about walks around the lake, about bellies, about daytime dreams of frustration, about smells that open interior landscapes, about lost things, lost impressions and attempts to recover them…It tells about intrusions…

The music is a hybrid of a mutant kind of electronic compositions and some grotesque brass band tunes, creating a convenient path for the narrator’s story to develop and leave us in a state of pure amazement. As Around the Lake, in 4 minutes and 20 seconds, says it all!

Edited by Birgit Beumers