A barge passes. She continues on her way despite the confinement. We know it is happening because the voice of filmmaker Vincent Dieutre becomes inaudible. He turned his head to follow his path and the movements of the light on the water. For the first few days, these barges, which were running softly across the Seine when everything stopped, seemed as reassuring as it was incongruous. He took his cell phone, filmed them by recording his voice in tribute to Alain Cavalier, shadow of the place and inventor of this cinema in the form of postcards. Where are we At the Moulin d’Andé, in Eure, where Vincent Dieutre had just entered residence to write a film on Saint-Just with the historian Sophie Wahnich, who stayed in Paris, when confinement was decreed. In the mill that can accommodate up to 70 people, only one other resident, Diana Saqeb Jamal, arrived from the Berlin festival in panic because she had her papers and computer stolen at Brussels Airport. The Afghan filmmaker unexpectedly found refuge at the Moulin d’Andé, where she rewrites the lost script.
Le Moulin d´Andé is an involuntary utopia. Its peculiarity has been permanent for fifty-eight years. Usually, a utopia goes out when it materializes. Its completion marks its end. But the spirit of the place resists despite the transformations, preserved by the one who founded it, Suzanne Lipinska, 92 years old – “why hide my age?”. When, in 1956, having just divorced, she chose to settle in this 12th century mille century, without any comfort or running water, with her three children, she did not plan to make it a place of creation and did not know that it would become her work. The young woman, curious about everything, strongly committed politically, wrote reports, played the piano. In a primeval voice, the one we call “Suzon” says: “I have always loved this mill, which I knew as a child, because we came to go there for the weekend. I was 12 years old when my father bought this ruin as you buy silverware: not to use it or show it everyday. When I was a child I played Robinson on the island, sitting in a tree with a book. “
How did you invent an artist residency? In the early years, friends invite friends, and the operation is informal. Suzanne Lipinska recovers the slightest addiction to transform it into a bedroom, everyone brings what they can do, everyone peels potatoes and does the dishes. The writer Maurice Pons enters for one night, he falls in love and stays there all his life. Are painter friends staying there? A wall is knocked down in the shed for carts so that they have northern light. Then it’s a potters workshop that artisans need.
To evoke the comings and goings of people as diverse as the American writer Richard Wright, the singer Francesca Solleville, the filmmaker Sarah Maldoror (disappeared on April 13 from the aftermath of Covid-19) or of course Georges Perec, Suzanne Lipinska talks about “Waves”. The writer fled Paris after his Renaudot Prize and wrote there disappearance – this text written without the letter “e”, an exercise he proposed to all residents.
During the war in Indochina and Algeria, the mill was also a hideout for governments in exile and rebellious, one of them being Noël Favrelière, this parachutist deserter, author of Desert at dawn, published by Minuit and censored in 1960. Suzanne Lipinska remembers: “When the gentlemen from the DST came, Noël left in the boat to hide on the island.” The secret of the mill, its poetry, is therefore its wheel and its island, where the end of the Fight on the island, Alain Cavalier’s first film with Romy Schneider and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
François Truffaut, meanwhile, discovers the mill before he even becomes a filmmaker, by visiting Maurice Pons whose news he wants to adapt the Mistons. Discovering the space, Truffaut announces that he will write a scenario where certain scenes will take place there. It will be Jules and Jim. Previously, “François”, who is not yet “Truffaut”, will have housed in the attic all the children of the recovery center for Four Hundred blows. A memory of the child Léaud? “He left by boat and he got naked by throwing all his clothes in the water!”
In 1962, the mill officially became a cultural association. In 1998, Le Moulin d´Andé invented Ceci, a center dedicated to cinematographic writing. He knows births, loves, death. Clara Malraux, who wrote all her books there, had a very soft death there, confessions of Rousseau in hand. “She came downstairs for tea in great shape, and by dinner time, she was dead. We watched over her for a week. “ There is no reason to favor one season over another, to remember Simone Signoret who tackled Nostalgia is not what it used to be, rather than Roland Dubillard, or Rappeneau who wrote his first film there the good life, or the diarist director Joseph Morder, or Taslima Nasreen who took refuge there when she was the subject of a fatwa in 2007 – “Is that so ? At the mill, we quickly forgot the reasons for its confinement. ”. No reason because the works in abundance are so many streams that feed the water of the wheel.
Over the years, the mill has diversified its activities and hosts business seminars and yoga workshops. But also, and from the start, classical music concerts – there is a piano in each room. Obviously, all of this year’s festivities have been canceled. Suzanne Lipinska returned to the piano. She notices : “It’s funny, with confinement, we went back to the early years. Everyone watches over everything. ” Vincent Dieutre does the shopping in the village, Diana Saqeb Jamal cooks Afghan dishes for the small community, currently seven people, some of whom live there permanently.