Somewhere To Disappear


30 Monday 30th May 2011

The desire to escape from the pressures of society has no doubt plagued the minds of more than one of us, but few actually go through with it. Somewhere to Disappear, a documentary by Laure Flamarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove and with the help of photographer Alec Soth, depicts a journey across America finding those people who have withdrawn from society and the places they hide in. Meeting monks, hermits and survivalists the films gives an insight into the varied lifestyles and mindsets on this planet. At the same time the film highlights the fall of the American empire and how fleeing from society could become the only option. Here directors, Laure and Arnaud speak about their own dreams of escape and how welcoming some hermits actually are.      

What was the inspiration behind the film?

It's about the desire to run away, about the ones who made that dream real and the photographer Alec Soth.

Is there an underlying message that we should be preparing for the worst?

No, there is no underlying message. We didn't want it to have any message. What we wanted was to share an adventure, to hit the road with our audience. The idea is more ‘come in the car with us, let’s meet those people who realise our dream, your dream’.

Has the reaction to the film been positive so far?

It took time to release the movie and now the reactions are really positive. The screenings in Paris, Minneapolis, Toronto and NY were more than sold out, so we are super happy.

People are really into it. They all tell us that the movie moved them and that it actually speaks about their dream.

How did you guys find the people featured in the film, when many of whom seem to have retreated from modern society?

Well, people who live as hermits are not always people who are hiding from the society, they sometimes want to share their unique experience and some of them are even on Facebook. We did more than 20,000 miles of road trip in the United States with Alec Soth, who had already made an exhaustive research trip. So the process of the movie was also about following the clues we had and discovering the places where the hermits were living, luckily Alec Soth is really good at doing that!

Was it a conscious decision to explore those who have ‘disappeared’ in America specifically? Would the film still have worked in a different country do you think?

The film links with Alec Soth's latest project Broken Manual and this happens in America. It is a movie about America. The real one. Not East Coast or West Coast. The lands. To shoot these kind of characters in Europe would had been much more difficult. People share more easily in America.

Did all the people featured in the film choose to be in isolation or was it their only option?

It's always a question of choice. But sometimes society helped them in their choice.

Why did you guys choose to just direct and use Alec Soth to front it? What made you choose him?

We still don't know if we directed him or he directed us. There are many reasons why we chose him, one is that when we looked at his pictures we wanted to know more about the places he depicted. We both love his work and he is an amazing story teller.

With all the stresses and strains of modern living and the seemingly bleak future that is forever being portrayed by the media, do you think more and more people will chose to withdraw from society?

Yes. It seems to be the general mood.

Have either of you ever felt like escaping or running away from the pressures of mainstream society? How long do you think you could live in solace for?

Arnaud: We think about it every day, but I wouldn't do it for more than one day.

Laure: I do it quite often. I have to feel that I can always escape. No more phone in my country home for one, two days or weeks and I am back to life!

Did you have any problems filming, for example getting the people in the documentary to open up to you?

No, everybody was very cool with us. They were happy to share their point of view with us. That would have been very different in Europe. And one of the things we really loved in America was people's generosity.

Was there anyone in the documentary who you really felt a connection with, any favourites?

Of course we were completely in love with Garth (who lives on a self-created compound in the California desert where he cares with great tenderness for horses, birds, and other animals). But we were also very moved by Tony (who longs to be loved by his father), Dustin and Grandma. Steve Lafontaine (who has his own Facebook account as well as living in the forest) was also very kind to us. We love all our characters, and it’s the reason we decided to keep them in the film.

Do you think you'll ever revisit the people you met during filming? Have you had any invitations back?

As soon as we have the money, we hope to visit each of them to give them a copy of the film, we promise ourselves that we will start with a stop by Garth. Hopefully we will be able to do it.

Any plans to have the film distributed across Europe and the UK? And do have any future projects lined up?

We are organising screenings all over the world, with Berlin in June and LA, London and Brussels hopefully happening soon. We are still looking for distributors, but we are working on a homemade DVD for collectors and we are working each of us on separate projects but hope one day we we’ll do something together again.

For the official Somewhere To Disappear website click here.

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