By Dirk Sonniksen | April 11, 2014
Director: Nicolas Philibert
Writer: Nicolas Philibert (concept)
An imposing circular structure located on the banks of the Seine, La Maison de la Radio stands in contrast to its neighbors in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Its mass of metal and glass tower above the area’s well-heeled, but more conventional tenants. It’s here that the employees of Radio France work tirelessly to get word on the street to all those tuned in. From weather forecasts, to politics and music, Radio France remains tapped into the pulse of a nation, an institution that has continued to be a viable news source since the building’s dedication by Charles de Gaulle in 1963.
Director Nicolas Philibert takes us on a tour of the building and its inhabitants, from the deadly serious environs of the newsroom to an outdoor interview with the quirky lightning guy…who is actually a doctor. Watching La Maison De La Radio, one quickly picks up on the work ethic of these individuals, a vibe that is quite intense. There is no dillydallying with these folks, with every interaction or task greeted with fierce determination. Some might feel out of place in such a work space, and in fact, the entire process is decidedly French, right down to their irritation with construction work underway in the building.
While La Maison De La Radio does open up an interesting cross-section of Radio France, there are times when a common thread would have proved useful in taking the audience from one example to the next. Perhaps that thread is the building itself, a hub of French individualism that serves as the epicenter for journalists and other creative types that work and create there.
What you’ll get out of La Maison De La Radio is unknown. It’s a documentary that is not a quick start, nor are there any obvious revelations in the film. The experience will yield a day-to-day look into a medium that is visually not well-documented. What is certain is that the individuals who make up Radio France are passionate about their work, and that passion is something worthy of study and admiration.
Rating: 7 or 10