La lune se lève
A musical, historical, and ambitious short film by Gaspard Vignon.
«An ordinary rehearsal of the choir of Vouvry, on a warm evening in August 1944. Antoinette, the most talented singer in this small group of amateurs, arrives late once again. The conductor suggests another singer to replace Antoinette for her solo. As the rehearsal progresses, tension mounts with the old director and composer Arthur Parchet who has made this small choir of the faithful his last refuge from the miserable fate he has been living for nearly 20 years in the Valais. The choristers are passionate, dedicated, but nothing seems to satisfy the old master in his quest for music. Antoinette’s anger finally reaches a point of no return. Outside: it’s the war».
It is a letter from the Valaisan composer Arthur Parchet (1878-1946), addressed to his best soloist Antoinette Cornut, which inspired this story to the director Gaspard Vignon. With this 23-minute short film project, he wishes above all to make the music of the Valaisan composer, which is still too little known, heard. For the main character of La lune se lève is perhaps first and foremost the music: a piece for choir and soloist composed by the old musician and which he rehearses with his singers. This music, the «Complainte d’Armorique», was chosen by Gaspard Vignon to inspire the writing of the project, because it carries within it the whole drama experienced by Arthur Parchet. We discover it in progressive fragments during the short film, before hearing it in full at the end of the story.
«My art is everything to me, and life is only valuable to me insofar as it allows me to cultivate it. The impossibility of doing so is worse for an artist than death. And this state of matters has made me a rebel relentlessly determined to obtain justice.» Arthur Parchet in a letter to René-Pierre Bille, 1 November 1944
After a brilliant musical career in Germany until 1914, Arthur Parchet was forced by the First World War to return to his native Valais, in Switzerland. A long descent into poverty began, and the musician was very quickly ostracized by the canton’s elites, who deigned to respond favorably to all his requests for a «suitable job», i.e. a position that would allow him to pass on his immense musical knowledge and to benefit the canton. After the death of his wife in 1929, and then of his son in 1932, the composer spent the last years of his life in ever greater poverty, supported only by the social assistance of his home village, Vouvry, and his close family. He died on 20 February 1946, leaving behind an immense amount of music, the manuscripts of which are scattered throughout the Valais and beyond. It took the persistence of one of his last friends and supporters, Jean Quinodoz, to gather and inventory all the musician’s work, which is now in the archives of the canton of Valais. In 2017, Gaspard Vignon created the «Arthur Parchet Composer Association» and is working on publishing the music, as well as recording a first CD of works for mixed choir, in 2019. The project, which is still in progress, can be found at www.arthur-parchet.ch.
A touching fiction, full of historical authenticity.
In parallel to his project devoted to bringing Arthur Parchet’s music back to life, Gaspard Vignon, fascinated by the character’s romanesque nature, imagined staging him and his music in a short fiction film for the cinema. Through the numerous letters of the musician that have been archived as well as the oral testimonies that he was able to collect, the director was able to get closer to the historical character, his strong temperament, his taste for musical absolutes and all the melancholy that characterises his life as much as his music. La lune se lève is the culmination of this project and was shot in September 2022 in the beautiful small castle of Vouvry. The main roles are played by Roland Vouilloz and Leonor Oberson and the photography is signed by Colin Lévêque (Fortuna, Pearl, Les Particules, Les indociles). All the music heard on the screen was performed live by choristers selected by casting, and the piano present on the screen and in the soundtrack is Arthur Parchet’s authentic last piano, which was given to him in 1936 by Panaït Istrati, his great Romanian friend and then Nobel Prize winner for literature. The result is a touching, emotionnal and musical fictional story with a strong historical authenticity.
What we still need to fund
To finance this project, Marmotte Productions has already been able to count on the support of the Federal Office of Culture (OFC), the Valais Film Commission and the commune of Vouvry. Unfortunately, the various Cinéforom commissions that examined the project narrowly failed to provide the necessary funding for such a historical production in costume. By managing to reduce the shooting costs as much as possible, the film was able to be shot and for the most part already edited with the available funding. We still need to find about 20’000 CHF to complete the film. Thanks to you this last bit of work can be achieved. We need to raise at least 8000 CHF, the rest coming from various small supporters and from Marmotte Productions’ own investments.
La lune se lève, is a short film, designed to be selected in the best film festivals around the world. To reach this level of quality, we worked with more than 20 professionals and 15 singers and actors during one week of shooting and so far all the criteria have been met. What remains now is the post-production work (sound editing, mixing, colour grading, making the DCP for cinema projection) and all this has a cost because it must be done by professionals and in special infrastructures. The 8000 CHF raised with your support will allow us to cover all of these post-production costs as well as various promotional costs (poster, communication, festival registration fees). If the financing is completed, we will be able to finish the film during the month of March and offer you a nice preview screening at the Cosmopolis cinema in Aigle on June 1st at 8:30 pm.
If the requested amount is exceeded, all the extra money raised will allow Marmotte Productions to reduce its own investment (and to invest in new projects), and will also allow us to better remunerate the director and the producers who have so far given up most of their salaries to allow the film to be made.