After wandering through the Parisian Bois de Vincennes (code: The Woods Dreams are Made of), Simon and her non-invasive camera enter a high school in the Parisian suburbs Ivry, listening in on conversations among its students. Instead of communicating through Facebook and other social networks, they open up to each other through intimate conversations. They talk about their (devastated) families, their schizophrenic mothers, absent fathers, first loves and plans for the future. Simon becomes something like their surrogate mother, providing them what their parents cannot in their own homes – namely, she listens and encourages them. The students are trying to articulate their emotions in a completely eloquent and relaxed way, revealing their insecurities, fears, desires and sorrows. This is what makes Simon’s procédé so sensitive and lucid. By sharing their problems with their peers, students start to understand they are not alone. Even when they finish a life story with tears in their eyes from time to time, with a simple conclusion: “Life is hard, isn’t it?”
Claire Simon was born in London, in 1955. She started her film career in Algeria, where she studied anthropology and French, and worked as editor with Algerian cineaste Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamin. Her films often deal with the topography of Paris, whether in feature (Gare du Nord) or documentary (The Woods Dreams are Made of, screened at the last year’s Subversive Film Festival) form. The Woods… made the top 10 films in 2016 by the renowned Cashiers du Cinéma (as the only documentary on the list). Simon’s most recent dox, Young Solitude, which premiered at this year’s Berlinale, can be seen as a variation on her dox Romance – 800 Kilometers of Difference (2001).