Le Grand Bal
MAD | Music/Art/Design
For more than 25 years now, the village of Gennetines, in central France, has been transformed every summer by thousands of people who’ve come to take part in Le Grand Bal—seven days and nights of dancing to numerous bands playing all styles of music under colourful tents. Come rain, wind or hail, the participants, ranging in age from infants to octogenarians, take to the seven or eight wooden dance floors set up around a grand estate and lose themselves to the rhythm in a celebration that lasts more than 200 hours. With four cameras capturing the event in its myriad forms, Laetitia Carton’s film immerses us in this almost-primal scene, capturing the touches, the glances and the coming together of people from all walks of life—there is a Utopian ideal running just beneath the surface of this wonderfully humanist work. But, above all, there is dance itself: Carton—herself a frequent participant in Le Grand Bal—has fashioned an impressionistic and joyous document that is full of terpsichorean wonder.
"Mixing observational elements with personal ruminations in voiceover about the filmmaker’s own relationship with and observations about dance, this is at once sprawling and intimate, a portrait of a very specific event and an exploration of dancing in both individual and more general terms… [The film is] an accomplished and fascinating piece of work…"—Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter