FILMS

 

From the Grass Roots Thierry Michel

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
ln the heart of one of the 480 shantytowns Surounding Carioca city three characters, in the midst of the most destitute of people, take a chance at life : Mario the priest, Eunice the hooker, Israël the chairman of a comitte of inhabitants.
They are caught up in a web of hardship, drug trafficking and police brutality, but also by the vitality of the popular Afro-Brazilian culture with its rites, ils music and by Carnival which constantly gives ils beat and sweeps them along in its wake. 
A Fleur de terre is a documentary full of humour and of a incredible density which, through the portraits of three very colourful personalities, allows us to penetrate into the life of the favelas, a mirror of Brazilian society. 
Scénario et réalisation / Script and directed by Thierry MICHEL
Assistants réalisateurs / Assistent Breno SIL VEIRA DE OLIVEIRA & Marie Anne THUNISSEN 
Assistante de production / Assistent Marisa CELESllNO GABON 
Direction photo / Photography Jacques DUESBERG 
Cadre / Camera Thierry MICHEL 
Prise de son / Sound André BRUGMANS 
Montage / Editoring Denise VINDEVOGEL & Fernando CABRITA 
Musique / Music Stéphane MARTINI 

Producteur exécutif / Executive producer Christine PIREAUX 
Producteur associé / Associate producer Jacqueline PIERREUX 
Producteur délégué Les Films de la Passerelle 

Production
Les Films de la Passerelle, Ministère de la Communauté française, la R. T.B.F. télévision belge, la S.E.P.T. unité de programme Thierry Garrel , Wallonie Image Production 
avec le concours de / with la Commission des Communautés Européennes 

Documentaire / Documentary -16 mm - 62' - négatif couleur / color
Thierry Michel was born on October 13, 1952, in Charleroi, Belgium, an area known as "The Black Country". At 16 he studied cinema at the Institut des Arts et Diffusion in Brussels where he came back to teach cinema. He experienced the last tremors before the students' upheavals which was to be the prelude to political enrolment in the militant and lyrical movements of the time. In 1973, he began to work as a filmmaker at the Belgian Television and realized numerous programmes all over the world. He dedicates his first films "Pays Noir, Pays Rouge" and "Chronique des saisons d'Acier" to the coal basin of his youth and his first fiction feature length "Hiver 60" tells of the insurrectional strikes of 1960.

He alternated documentaries and fiction and managed to bring a camera inside a prison's walls to film "Private Hotel", a poignant hymn to liberty at the heart of confinement. After a long quest for his identity and his regional and political origins, Thierry Michel explored other continents and other dreams. The result was his second feature lenth film "Emergency exit", a poetical and mystical work set in the heart of the Moroccan desert which had always attracted him.

He then came back to reality with two very moving pictures, "Kids from Rio" and "From the grass roots" which depicted the street urchins and the favelas of heart-rending Brazil. This was to be his first encounter with the black culture which he studied in-depth in Zaire with "Zaire, the cycle of the serpent", a many award winning film which ruthlessly portrays the ruling class and the rejects of Zaire society.

He made a brief return to Belgium and filmed a Minister at the centre of a political and criminal scandal which has upset all of Belgium: "La grâce perdue d'Alain Van der Biest"; following this he packed his bags once more to investigate the validity of international armed charity with "Aid for Somalia : a losing battle".

A few months later, he sets off for Zaire to shoot "The last colonials" a film on the colonial heritage and the presence of white people and white culture in the country after years of independence. A few days after his arrival, he is arrested, imprisoned and expelled from the country. His equipment is seized, and he finishes his film thanks to his own archives and images from the preliminary shooting. 

He directs "Post-colonial nostalgia", a film on the historical relationship between the Zairian people and white colons during the years of Congo/Zaire's independence. He then sets off for Africa once more, this time to shoot a major work, "Donka, x-ray of an African hospital". This tragic, human and uncompromising portrait of the Conakry hospital in Guinea will win prestigious awards both in Europe and in the United States. 

Thierry Michel pursues his work in the wake of his African experience: following the fall of the Zairian dictator, he starts shooting a historical documentary, somewhat reminiscent of great Shakespearean tragedies: "Mobutu, king of Zaire".

After ten years and seven films made in Africa he goes back to Asia and the Republic of Iran, one of the cradles of Islamic fundamentalism. There he made his latest film "Iran, veiled appearances" in which he paints a portrait of a society that is socially and culturally split. The eye of the film-maker captures the religious fervour of some which contrasts so violently with the desire for freedom of others. After having been selected in major festivals, Thierry Michel has again gleaned numerous international distinctions. 

He then went up the Congo River and once again traveled through Africa’s history, its memory and destiny. "Congo River" is a personal journey to the source and the origin of this country and with it he pursued his quest for light and darkness, being driven by the desire to plunge into the mystery and the depths of the Congolese equatorial forest and its majestic river.

Thierry Michel has an insatiable curiosity and has, for the last twenty years, not stopped filming all the beloved faced that inhabit the "sublime reality" of his camera. "The themes are the same, where you are. Man is the same, whether here or there; life and death are perceived identically. I have yet to stop working".
Mention d'honneur au Golden Gate Awards de San Francisco (USA)
8/01/1991 62' RTBF 1 21h39 BELGIUM
8/01/1991 62' RTBF 1 21h39 PAYS BAS
8/10/1992 55' ARTE 19H FRANCE
25/12/1993 62' CHSFDRS 11H SUISSE