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Soy libre: A film full of heart but never complacent

Amman Film Festival

SOY LIBRE (Trailer) 00-00-17
Portier is very present with her sensual and psychological perspective that reveals much about her own childhood, the absence of her father, the psychiatric illness of her mother and the resentment towards her troubled brother, Arnaud. (Photos: Handout from RFC)
Over 15 years, Laure Portier has filmed Arnaud, her brother. His peaceful wanderings, his emotional outbursts and everything in between. The resulting film is an intimate look at Arnaud, that truly makes you feel as if you understand him. اضافة اعلان

Soy Libre, was screened as part of the International Documentaries section of the Amman International Film Festival; it stands out in a striking way by turning consciously, even stubbornly, around the bond uniting the filmmaker to her little brother.

From the very first shot of this feature film, captured from the backseat of a scooter driven by Arnaud; the perspective clings to him. Soy libre imposes itself on the siblings’ relationship and serves as a test of the point of view associated with two beings who undoubtedly love each other.



You have to love your brother desperately to commit to a documentary, which, if we are to believe in the beginning, has no chance of ever being aired.

Portier is very present with her sensual and psychological perspective that reveals much about her own childhood, the absence of her father, the psychiatric illness of her mother and the resentment towards her troubled brother, Arnaud. The way she portrays his image testifies to her immeasurable love for Arnaud who will soon be judged. He knows he is going to be doomed, but the loss of freedom that occurs is the result of a childhood where love failed.

It is a film that literally carries the viewer away in a flood of emotions. Through a rebellious teenager who cries as much as he breaks the law, we sense the success of a woman who has overcome the difficulties in the cinematic arts.

While Arnaud disposes of his identity by trying to flee from France to Spain and then Peru, the director reconstructs the path of rupture that many children experience when taken in by social assistance. She talks about the failure of a system that does not always know how to listen to children, to welcome them earnestly and to their needs and their suffering. She speaks of her redemptive journey through letters, and the cinema, while her brother flounders trying to save himself by fleeing. Sitting behind his back, on the seat of the scooter, she follows all his movements.
The film is transformed into a sort of emotional crutch, the director finding herself in the position of artist, educator and accomplice in the crimes Arnaud commits.
The film is interspersed with drawings of the central character, which, in a somewhat naive style, helps us understand the passage of weeks and months in an expedited manner. Each time, they question Arnaud’s relationship with freedom, while showing him change.

The film is transformed into a sort of emotional crutch, the director finding herself in the position of artist, educator and accomplice in the crimes Arnaud commits.

The documentary has all the sociological clichés of delinquency. It shows what leads boys to give in to the temptation of impropriety. At the same time, Portier absolutely avoids misery or condemnation. She accompanies the journey of this lost kid, offering him a precious space for words and emotions.

Arnaud knows a lot about stereotypes, having taken on heavy ones during his abusive childhood, to the point of being a prisoner of them. Those stereotypes of the bad boy rolling mechanic, and as a suburban delinquent destined to cause trouble until he ends up at Baumettes prison.

“How do you get rid of a dirty image,” asks Portier? The assumptions that fell on him, conditioned who he became.



Portier said she did not make Soy libre “for Arnaud, but to be with him, engaged with him in a common project”.

In terms of documentaries, a distinction is often made between filmmakers and the subject. Soy libre resolutely refuses this distinction. The siblings are ready to welcome the spectator without any embarrassment in what is, in this case, much more than a simple family film: an authentic work of cinema.


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