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Gudak | Feature films

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Long Métrage
Auteur / Réalisateur : Pierre MATHIOTE


London, 2012 Olympic Games. We are a few hours away from the gymnastics event of the Olympic Games.

Dramatic turn of events, the Chinese team is stuck in bed with the flu. The Chinese authorities have called in a substitute, GUDAK, a young Tibetan gymnast. For GUDAK, forbidden to have any relationships with girls in China, being chosen suddenly is an undreamed of opportunity for him to get closer to SHU, a young and pretty Chinese gymnast. Who will this gymnastic prodigy let win, Tibet or China ? Torn between ambition and love, the young man must make choices, whilst dodging the traps laid by his competitors and his own side, behind closed doors with the world looking in.


Shooting planned summer 2011





Why choose the Sino-Tibetan conflict ?

Because, for me a film can never coast on indifference, nor serenity, even. My work as author and producer is a witness to this. As is my commitment to developing works of highly added human value. Moreover, it is because we find it difficult to believe that we are like others on this earth, that the unspoken text of this film relates how we succeed or fail to become human beings; how and why in certain parts of the world, we have abandoned each other. GUDAK is of course an occasion to talk about Tibet before the 2012 Olympic Games. With GUDAK, we are going to get through to culture, to men. That’s what its about at the end of the day, humanity, or, taking it further, humanism.


Why a « huis clos » ?

I like in camera. Because it is a constraint that obliges the author to construct a tight dramatic setting. Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Rob Reiner’s Misery, etc, or more recently Chris Kentis’ Open Water in which four-fifths of the film can be likened to an underwater theatrical play, are all examples of this type. Nevertheless, none of these films take the position of an in camera situation looking onto the external world such as in Phone Game, for example, through the means of a telephone. I therefore wanted to work on a new form of in camera, mixing all at once the infinitely restricted, the in camera itself, the training gym with the infinitely large, the consequences of this in camera on the external world, the Web.


Why choose gymnastics as a setting ?

Because for my first fictional full-length film as Producer, I wanted to speak about the sport I know best: gymnastics. I practiced this sport at a high level, working up to thirty hours per week. The aim is to try to follow the intimate experience of their bodies in the intimate space as much as in the air space belonging to the gymnastics domain. The story between the two of them will therefore be told using gesture. It is this same use of gesture that creates the backdrop to the film.

In terms of structure, each time the two adolescents get close to each other, I want the camera to take time to observe them; long enough to pick up on the modesty, embarrassment, attraction, seduction, as Terrance Malick does in his full-length film The New World, where we are in real time. To film a growing relationship between two adolescents imposes stylization. The camera lightens the dialogue and brings to the surface the vulnerability of the adolescents who are self-consciously learning who they are and shielding themselves the best they can in the adult environment.

I will also film other gymnasts in action, incongruous, original, sensitive or aesthetic which will be like breaths of air. The alternation between a camera which takes its time and a camera following rapid movements will undoubtedly give the rhythm for the filming treatment. Finally, the way a gymnastics training room is laid out means that we can work at 360°. The camera will not be blocked between two blocks of decor. The spontaneity of the camera’s movements and the framing will not allow us to use artificial light, which means that there will be no cables or projectors in the visual field.


Special effects

Rightly so, gymnastics is considered as one of the most spectacular and highly emotional sports. When Truffaut speaks of the notion of « spectacle », this does not necessarily mean using special effects. The filming of a gymnastics movement is a « cascade » in itself which is enough. From this point of view,  GUDAK is a film whose ambition is to make the spectator feel immediate emotion which he would like to have experienced himself, had he practised gymnastics in his own life. I will film gymnastics from the « inside ». In this respect, you will find in the attached file some pictures taken in the high level Gymnastics Training Institute. As a former gymnast, I forced myself to find original angles that cannot be shown on television.  You will see among other examples, what can be done by fixing a camera to a moving gymnast. It goes without saying that this needs working on but the pictures still give a good idea of what is possible to be done or explored. Effectively, the scenario dialogues will often be integrated into a highly photogenic gymnastic backdrop.

A few words concerning the sound. Highly sensitive to music and noise, the sound will be as close as possible to the situation and shot. When we put a camera on a gymnast’s body the sound will accentuate our experience of the sensation.  It will take us from outside position to an inside one. Nonetheless, the sound will destabilise reality by producing a strange materiality. It will become the place of imagination and will participate to the artistic aspect of the film.


Pierre MATHIOTE  Film-maker