Née en Autriche, Sarah Linder a passé son enfance entourée par la nature et les chevaux. Intéressée par les cultures orientales, elle obtient un Master en Études chinoises. Au cours de son année d'échange à la Beijing Film Academy, elle entre en contact avec la scène des réalisateurs indépendants chinois. Inspirée par leurs œuvres et leur engagement à travers leurs films, elle commence en 2014 une formation au Département Cinéma /cinéma du réel à la HEAD – Genève.
Man : for the last couple of years, I have been following the transformation of a maple tree outside my window. Over the seasons I have watched it budding, and assessed the state of health of its leaves, depending on the weather, the rain acidity or pest infestation. In a way, it has become my practice to observe small changes, such as buds opening on the tree. I should admit, at this point, that I have excellent eyesight. One day early in October, looking down at the tree, my eyes were drawn to its leaves shining bright yellow and red. Usually, it is a quiet place where not much happens, only on that day, my attention was drawn by an old man who dragged himself up the little square, where my tree was unfolding. Letting my eyes wander from the stable colourful tree to the extremely slow-moving silhouette of the old man, I started playing a little game. Alternating, I focused my gaze first on the slow progress of the strange old man, and then switched it to the ocean of lights reflected by the tree. Only when the man stopped next to the tree, did I become more interested in him. He was wearing a heavy brown coat, and carrying a big plastic bag. His equipment further hindered his movement. He placed the bag beside him and stretched his two hands into his bag. A moment later he scooped out handfuls of earth. Although his feet were moving slowly, his hands were as fast as rats. First extending his hands in the air, he proceeded to disperse the humus over the roots of the tree. Even though I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of his actions, the scene somehow made a strong impression on me.
Woman : the first time I noticed the old man with his humpback, he was walking down the long church aisle. His appearance from afar was like a moving brown round spot. His heavy brown coat contributed to the rather strange feeling I had when looking at him. I watched him moving slowly to one corner of the church, where a medium-sized painting of Francis of Assisi hangs next to a candle stick. I was a bit suspicious, which is why I continued to observe him for some time, as he was standing there in the corner. Suddenly, he started gesticulating wildly with his hands and feet! It looked both strange and dangerous. I had never seen anyone act like that before. I noticed that, before leaving, he lit a couple of candles.
Man : the following day, I played a new game. Having little to do in the afternoon, and expecting a delivery, I was looking out the window, hoping to see the postman. The reflection of the light was not as impressive as on the previous day, but I got excited when I saw that the old man had returned. That day, it took him a lot longer to drag himself up the stairs, and to make his way up to the tree. Once arrived there, he paused for a bit and then looked up to the sky. I noticed how the leaves of the tree started to move gently with the wind. As the leaves were dancing, a flock of doves landed smoothly right next to the old man. Like the first time, I saw his hands disappear quickly inside his plastic bag, fishing out handfuls of corn. As he began spreading the grain in circles around the tree, one dove after another started to follow the pattern he created, picking up and eating grain after grain. I felt like a spectator in a circus, with the difference that the performance seemed to be solely aimed at me. And then all of a sudden, the birds flew away, disappearing behind the city’s buildings.
Woman : the following time, I found him, once again, standing next to the candles. I chose to fill up the candle altar to observe him from closer. He was mumbling and I didn’t understand what he was saying. His clothes were tattered; on closer inspection, the wretched plastic bag I had noticed the first time looked like a garbage bag. And still it seemed to contain the man’s life possessions. I decided to talk to him. I asked : “Is there anything you need, Sir? How can I help you?” He didn’t react. Like the other times his final ritual was to light some candles. While he had a calm appearance the first day I saw him, he seemed to become more and more agitated and started gesticulating that day. I realized I had to do something. I walked up to him to address him once again. Using my hands to communicate, I made him understand : If YOU… light candles, … YOU … put… money… in donation box. Several times I indicated with my fingers what I meant. Put … money! Pointing at the painting of St. Francis I made it clear that he was being watched.
Man : one week later, I witnessed the same spectacular scene again. Who would believe it? When the doves had finished their snack they flew away, once again. Again, the man turned to the tree and gently touched its branches before he disappeared inside the church of St. Francis. Trying to find out what connection there was between the old man, the doves and the church, I decided to follow the man and spy on him.
Woman : the following week a concert of profanity coming from inside the church attracted my attention. I recognized the old man shouting furiously. I knew I had to do something. I did not know how far he would go if I didn’t stop him. I decided to call the police for help.
Man : leaving my house, on my way to the church, I decided to climb a construction scaffolding, to better observe the man through one of the huge stained glass windows. I tried to remain hidden while I investigated. In one of the corners, I recognized him standing in front of an icon of St. Francis. His gesticulation astonished me. For a couple of minutes, I sat there looking inside the church to see what was going on. Somehow, I felt that he was in a dialogue with the icon of St. Francis. I only knew situations like that from scary films. Suddenly they became real. There seemed to be some kind of connection between the man and the image. Trying to imagine what the exchange might be about, I sensed that there would soon be a problem.
Old man (translated from his mother tongue) : finally, it all made sense. Signs started to appear around me, or more importantly, I started to read them. Before, I was like an old blind herder, stranded in a city. All I could do was let my hands sink into the different possibilities my bag provided. Then, for just one moment, I was given all that I needed. This stone box was provided, in order to sustain my companions and myself, so I can toil on, keeping the guardians peaceful and friendly. A few moments after the lady had appeared before me, I became aware of the heavy stone box. I used the thin magic magnet I was given once, and inserted it. Pulling constantly, the magnet brought to the light a couple of papers and shells. They were beautiful, so I took them. I put them in my bag. And then all of a sudden my fragile fortune was turned into mystery.
Woman : everything happened very fast. A few minutes after I had hung up, I saw the reflection of blue lights through the big church window. Soon after, two policemen entered the church and walked towards the old man. He did not see them coming. Once the two officers had reached him, they asked him to go with them. He stood still, reactionless. A moment later I heard twice the sound : “Click, Click”. Handcuffs were placed on his wrists. Then, they took him away. I suddenly felt my heart weigh as heavy as a stone.
Un pauvre diable est passé à confesse dans les locaux de la police. Il dit se faire 1000fr par mois. Ment-il ? Pas de chance pour le voleur, il s'est retrouvé nez à nez avec deux policiers dans une église. Le suspect est ressorti aussitôt de l'édifice religieux. Pas assez vite toutefois pour échapper aux gendarmes. Le pauvre diable avait 6 fr 25 dans ses poches, un rouleau de scotch et un mètre en rouleau qu'il avait modifié pour attraper la monnaie. Il avait également une carte de débit et une carte de crédit qui ne lui appartenaient pas ainsi qu'un téléphone portable de provenance douteuse, précise le communiqué de presse de la police.