Fernand Deligny, the poetics of autists

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Fernand Deligny (1913-1996), teacher, educator, writer, amateur filmmaker, revolutionized special education, in particular through his work with autistic people, whom he delivered from psychiatry by inventing places to suit them. He did not seek to “cure” them but to allow them to live with others. Not by adapting them to our world, but by letting them flourish in theirs, which may have something to teach us. According to him, autistics are characterized by their way of staying out of language and intentions: at home, to act does not become make, their actions have no causes and do not imitate anything. Observing them, understanding them, could help us to get out of our own confinement in language. Making a documentary that claims to be faithful to this unconventional man is a challenge. During the latter’s lifetime, and with his complicity, Renaud Victor produced two magnificent ones – That kid (1976) and Fernand Deligny, about a film to be made (1989). Today, Richard Copans also declares that he does not want to make a “on” but rather “with” Deligny. As the latter is no longer there, he restores his word through his texts, in a voiceover where Jean-Pierre Darroussin, not content to read, truly interprets his role. Copans was mainly interested in Deligny’s relationships with the images. Considering the camera as a “Educational tool”, the one who was the friend of André Bazin and then of François Truffaut regularly filmed bits of films with the children he looked after. He had invented a word to designate their way of using the camera to produce “Autistic images”, without intentions and who say nothing: camera. In 1971, these experiences gave birth to a film unlike any other : the Least Gesture. Modestly, Copans reports on all this without trying to take himself for Deligny, but by precisely following his steps, those of his life as much as those of his thought. He does not just cite it but returns to the landscapes where he lived and finds objects that belonged to him. The result is a serious, dense, captivating biographical portrait.

Spectators will have access to the film on TVOD at a cost of € 4 exclusively on the Shellac site, www.shellacfilms.com and on La Toile platforms www.la-toile-vod.com, the VOD service for your cinema. , for the first two weeks then in partnership with Universciné.

Marcos Uzal

Mr. Deligny, efficient wanderer of Richard Copans (1 h 35).

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