I first explored the cinematic elements of black image and narrative voice in the film Belleville Baby. The project had emerged from my growing skepticism towards the commonly accepted documentary stance in which the filmmaker – i.e. myself –exploits socially vulnerable people in the name of artistic expression.
Belleville Baby had a protagonist who didn't want to appear on film, so my choices were practical as well as aesthetic. I worked intuitively and it wasn't until afterward that I encountered theories about the black image. I was inspired by French essay film, particularly Marguerite Duras' Les Mains Negatives (1979).
Belleville Baby is a story about longing, told through flashbacks. It is a somewhat autobiographical poetic documentary. It is also a work of fiction, the dialogue having been written and recorded with an actor. The visual language includes abstraction; reflecting dreams, memories and realities, those of the protagonists, the spectators, and even of the film itself – a street in Marseille, a tree, a child, a black screen.