Le cercle des noyés (Drowned by Oblivion) is the most documentary essay by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd (b. 1969). The film looks back on 1987 and the imprisonment of a number of Mauritanian political activists in an abandoned colonial fort at Oualata. Political authorities described them as subversives, so they were picked up, taken away and handled as such. Le cercle des noyès was how they referred to their prisoners. In a serene, almost poetic manner, Ba Fara, one of the few survivors, recalls the painful experiences that nearly cost him and his few remaining friends their lives. In his own ’Fula’ dialect, he tells about six years of humiliation, violence, torture and starvation. Vandeweerd has created a sober and disconcerting document in which the horrors to which the prisoners were subjected remain unseen. Together with Ba Fara, he describes one of the darkest pages from the history of Mauritania. Behind these objective facts, sometimes interconnected in very rough fashion, the filmmaker has made a beautiful contribution to the mysterious substance of visionary dreams, the rambling meanderings of consciousness and inner journeys.

2007, 71’, video, b/w, Fula with English subtitles

Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, Le Cercle des Noyés, 2007