EIFF 2013: Natan
When a person is murdered and the body burned, all that is left is a name and a sum total of everything said about them; distort the shape of their life's outline and the truth will become lost. Cairns and Duane's documentary implies that early film innovator Bernard Natan died a second death through becoming largely forgotten and misremembered through exaggerated misinformation, spread both during his life and much later. An inventively told film, Natan seeks to rehabilitate the image of an arguable giant of French cinema, who once had ownership of the still prominent Pathé Studios, and advanced colour and sound filmmaking.
In amassing the few scraps of information regarding Natan to formulate a clearer, more accurate picture, Cairns and Duane also provide an enlightening look at the development of early French cinema, including early pornographic material that has tarred the man's little remaining legacy through misunderstood documentation. As both an entertaining rescue of a man's name from oblivion and what's hopefully just the start of the rewriting of cinema history, Natan's is a story that needs to be seen.