• Renaud Victor Prize
• Audience Award
In Martinique, a curse upon men leads to their disappearance. A group of young friends meet and talk about their relationship to the island.
Known as the “Island of Flowers”, Martinique brings to mind exotic beaches of fine sand and constant sun in a bright sky. Located in the Caribbean, it was colonised by the French in 1635. In a few shots, Aliha Thalien sets her scene between coconut trees and blue seas. The picture-postcard imagery, embraced by a splendid foreground full of dense, saturated colours set to a background of shatta, gradually gives way to the silence of other views, reminding us, for example, of the island’s slave-owning past. The change in tone indicates a distancing from the exoticization of the island. A tracking shot from a motorbike creates a movement that seems to lead us to its heart – it’s a portrait of the interior that Nos Îles paints. Our guides are young people, filmed in a group, with all the joy, vigour and promise of youth. With her unpretentious editing, gentle modulations of ambient sounds and fixed frames, the director cultivates a feeling of steamy tranquillity. A friendly complicity reigns between their splashing around in the water, and the crystal-clear skies, punctuated by casual jokes and digs aimed at the békés (white creoles descended from the early colonisers). Simply, Thalien records snatches of conversation that veer between light-hearted topics and more serious considerations of the island’s socio-economic realities such as the colonial legacy, the relationship with mainland France, the desire for political independence, and the control of resources. Implicitly, a contrasted portrait emerges of a multiple Martinique, infused with the lucidity of its mixed-race, Creole youth and its easy sovereignty.