Stéphane Breton is a French filmmaker
born in 1959.
He lived in the mountains of New Guinea
for many years as a professional ethnologist. There he found barefooted people armed with bows whose language, humor, greed and arguments he learned. They stared at him, incredulous, waiting for him to make the first move, wondering whether he hadn’t come to sell them bars of soap. Hard to hold it against them.
He drew on this everyday but uneasy situation to make Them and Me, a film that unfolds between them and him in the moments when handshakes, tobacco, smiles, words and shell money are exchanged. It is the ethnologist, the man who cannot see because he is filming, but who is methodically observed by those he is watching, who becomes the gentle savage of yore.
Ever since, seeing and being seen have been the principal theme of his films.
After that, he filmed poetic documentaries
in the street down the block where he lives in Paris, in Kyrgyzstan, New Mexico and Russia, films that lend an aura of splendor and beauty to the simple things and situations around us.
If they have an ethnographic taste, it is because they take place in distant countries and describe how people cling to the little patch they call home, but also because they assert the presence of the person filming, forced into the position of the ethnologist by sharing the lives of those he films.