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«Les Guérisseurs»: The power of reality

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Pierre Wuthrich

Published

08.04.2021

Marie Eve Hildbrand in action

In her first feature-length film, «Les Guérisseurs» (Healers), Marie-Eve Hildbrand portrays the fragile link between caregivers and patients. This extremely topical documentary was made possible by assistance from the Migros Culture Percentage. You can discover it as part of the Visions du Réel festival and on RTS2.

«I grew up in the countryside, which I found terribly boring, so I had plenty of time to consider the world around me», explains Marie-Eve Hildbrand when asked about where the desire to make films had come from. These long, in-depth observations, heightened by a curiosity that her parents always sought to develop in their children, could have prompted the Vaud native to put them into words by writing novels. But she preferred to translate them into images and sounds, becoming a filmmaker instead. Were it possible, she would also have added touch and smell to her works to «better reproduce the impressions of a captured moment.»

After studying broadcasting at Lausanne Cantonal Art School (ECAL) and achieving top grades, Marie-Eve Hildbrand became interested in the various aspects of the world of the cinema. Logically, she explored cinematography, co-directing Dans nos campagnes (Campaign – Our Ways), but she also successfully tried her hand at casting and directing voice actors in Claude Barras' Ma vie de Courgette (My Life as a Courgette).

«I love every stage of the production of a film. Researching a subject allows me to meet people and discover their worlds. Diving into the writing part is a more solitary, introspective period. Location scouting and casting brings me back to reality – which is often better than I could have imagined. Then there's the shooting itself, the teamwork, where you are constantly busy and time flies! And finally there's editing, especially the sound, which enables me to find the right rhythm for the film, to refine its composition.»

For her first solo feature-length film, Marie Eve Hildbrand chose to look at medicine, in particular, the link between patients and caregivers. Back in 2017, Hildbrand noticed that many doctors were exhausted and had neither the time nor the energy to develop healthy relationships with their patients. «If the people who are supposed to be in charge of looking after our vulnerabilities are tired themselves, who can look after us?» the director wondered. She decided to take part in a Swiss documentary competition organised by the Migros Culture Percentage, winning the first prize in 2018, an honour coupled with a CHF 400,000 funding guarantee, to which SSR added another CHF 80,000 for the realisation of her project. «Of course, I was thrilled,» she says. «It's a sizeable sum that enabled me to shoot my documentary in a very professional manner.»

Marie-Eve Hildbrand is more than just a unique observer. She is also intuitive. After all, the project she launched four years ago takes on a completely different dimension in our current situation. «The pandemic has really highlighted the fragility of the link between caregivers and patients. And today, this need to slow down, to return to basics, has become stronger once again», the director says.

Marie Eve Hildbrand

I grew up in the countryside, which I found terribly boring.

Marie Eve Hildbrand Foto: Désiréee Good

Humanity: an inexhaustible source of inspiration

Entitled Les Guérisseurs (Healers), the documentary is also a film about relationships. In her feature-length production, Hildbrand also portrays a general practitioner – her father – a man who, having reached retirement age, has difficulty giving up his doctor's surgery, as well as young medical students faced with the miracle of life and the mystery of death. Aside from traditional medicine, the film also looks at shamanism and secrecy, «practices that aren't magic, but have proven themselves simply because these ancient healers manage to create a bubble in which they take the time to anchor themselves in the present in order to better focus on their perceptions and look after their patients.»

Nothing beats reality

The honesty of the protagonists makes Marie-Eve Hildbrand's film extremely touching. It will celebrate its world première at the opening of the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon on 15 April. «Given that the screening will be in a very reduced form, it will be frustrating that we can't experience these emotions collectively,» she says.

Nevertheless, Marie-Eve Hildbrand will continue meeting people and trying to understand them, although she says that may one day be tempted by a work of fiction. «Even so, nothing beats the power of reality. Some people want to go to Mars. I still want to explore the people down here.»

 

Information: "Les Guérisseurs" will be available to watch on the site visionsdureel.ch (price: CHF 5 for 72 hours) from 11am on 17 April. It is scheduled for release in cinemas on 29 September 2021.

Supporting audiovisual arts

The Migros Culture Percent has been supporting Swiss filmmaking since 1943, most notably through its documentaire-CH competition. In 2021, it launched a new type of support: the Storylab. Open to all audiovisual formats (feature-length films, series, video games, virtual reality, etc.), the lab offers creative artists an opportunity to experiment and hone their ideas.

Detailed information: storylab.migros-culture-percentage.ch

Photo/Stage: Désiréee Good