FID Marseille catalogue text

Day of the Sparrow
by Jean-Pierre Rehm

On the 14 November 2005, two stories were competing for the front pages of a German newspaper. The first related to a sparrow that was killed in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands because it was threatening national security; the second was about a German soldier that had been killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul. Philip Scheffner is familiar with paradoxical relationships. His beautiful The Halfmoon Files (Prix des Médiathèques FID 2007), which we recall, already demonstrated his use of montage to great effect. The front page story offers him both a new launch pad and method. Resolutely off on another path of investigation, he mixes up genres, carrying out a political investigation in the style of a wildlife documentary. Ornithology provides him with the tools for asking the question: Are we at war or peace?
The strength of the film lies there: in its ethereal, aerial character. This does not imply it is not serious, on the contrary, the patience and obstinacy of a bird watcher are necessary qualities for those that wish to reveal the truth. No stone is left unturned, but it is the space of the film which is a wide open void, as vast as the sky. For it is the sky that repeatedly becomes the smoke screen of a military secret, a battlefield where planes bombard Afghanistan (and elsewhere), and the vast home to the innocent birds. To venture up into the big blue yonder is tantamount here to flicking through a spy novel and indisputably increases the scope of (political) cinema.

Jean-Pierre Rehm