A film by Stéphane Manchematin, Serge Steyer
2018, 91 minutes
No. 180

A renowned sound engineer and biologist, Marc Namblard lives with his family – his wife and young daughter – on the edge of a forest in the Vosges mountains in France. During the day (and sometimes at night), Namblard ventures deep into the forest, audio equipment in tow, to capture sounds no one’s heard before: a bee rubbing its legs together, the persistent drumbeat of marching ants, the songs of nocturnal animals, the sound of ice cracking beneath a frozen lake.

An magical documentary that asks us to reconsider how we see – and hear – our world, In The Stillness of Sounds offers a wondrous appreciation of nature’s ecosystem.

At home, we see Namblard enjoying quiet moments with his family. After dinner, he often descends to his basement studio, where with headphones over his ears, he methodically identifies and catalogs the sounds he’s collected – much like the herbalists of yore. On many occasions, he’s joined by his daughter, who is often the first to hear his sound tableaux. As she listens, her father explains which animals the sounds belong to and what they suggest.

At one point in the documentary, Namblard’s work draws the attention of a composer who invites him to collaborate on a project creating a piece of electroacoustic music – later played to a rapt audience.

“I live in a world of sounds,” Namblard says to the filmmakers. This magnificent documentary is testament to that, a mediation on the act of listening and the art of sound. We encourage you to watch it with your eyes closed.

Official Selection, Cinema du Reel