Skip to content

800 kilomètres de différence / Romance (800 kilometers of difference / Romance)

Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 3:15pm

800 kilomètres de différence / Romance (800 kilometers of difference / Romance)

Claire Simon | 
France |
 2001 | 
78 minutes
This film will have English subtitles.


Manon and Greg are in love. In a small village in Provence, the smell of the olive and the almond trees perfumes the warm summer air. Greg works with his father, the village baker, at night. During the day, he hangs out with his friends, messing about on motorbikes, passing the hours with casual conversation and dumb jokes. Manon, on summer holidays from her school in Paris, is also director Claire Simon’s only daughter. These downy-cheeked teenagers, as soft as baby chicks, are nonetheless convinced that their love is permanent and irrefutable. Class, education, and cultural differences pale in the face of their budding sexuality. While Manon plans for her future as a baker’s wife with babies, Greg appears less certain. Throughout the action is Claire Simon herself, behind the camera, watching with a respectful and caring eye. “It freaks me out to think that’s it!” says Manon. To her great credit, Claire Simon doesn’t laugh at this statement. Belief in the dream is too bittersweet and too beautiful.

As the weeks unfold, the novelistic quality of the film becomes entangled with one’s own memories of summers and that first obliterating love. A powerful physicality comes through in beads of sweat, and hazy skies. If there is one thing that 800 kilomètres makes clear, it is the powerful connection between the events on screen and the hearts and minds of an audience. Documentary cinema, rooted in real experience, gives an almost palpable sense of immediacy, a direct line so strong that when Greg promises to visit Manon in Paris (800 kms distant), or at least says he’ll try, you will feel a catch in your own throat. -DW


Claire Simon

Born in London and raised in the Var, France, Claire Simon studied ethnology as well as classical Arab and Berber. While establishing herself in the film industry as an editor, she directed short films, including the 1992 French television series “Scènes de ménage” (10 x 5 minutes) starring Miou Miou. She discovered the practice of documentary filmmaking at the Ateliers Varan workshops and directed several documentaries that were made using V8 at first, then Hi8, and then film. Her early films, “Les Patients”, “Récréations” and “Coûte que coûte”, received awards at the Cinema du Réel International Film Festival among others. Most recently, she has made two feature-length documentary films: “Le bois dont les rêves sont faits”, whose theatrical release is scheduled for early 2016, and “Le concours”, which is currently in post-production. Read more about Claire Simon here.