Deauville (AFP)

The American director Jonathan Nossiter presented Sunday in Deauville in front of a thousand masked spectators "Last Words", the story of the end of humanity decimated by a virus on a land where physical contact and nature have almost disappeared.

This "fiction is perhaps a documentary of anticipation. I hope not", explained during a round table the author of "Mondovino", selected like "Last Words" in Cannes but in 2005. And the filmmaker to call for a "joyful resistance" to the intoxication of the world, according to him, by multinationals by becoming market gardener like him.

Like all the speakers, the filmmaker spoke without a mask in front of a "microphone with hood".

His film in competition at Deauville is "a tribute to life" where "culture and agriculture are the source of humanity's last laughs," added the academic Gilles-Eric Séralini.

One of his studies on GMOs in 2012 was controversial.

For the American-Brazilian filmmaker, the researcher who was nine years at the commission of molecular engineering in France has "suffered very serious things from the agri-food industry".

Performed in particular by Charlotte Rampling and Nick Nolte, "Last words", which will be released in theaters on October 21, plunges the viewer in 2085 into a world made up of fields of ruins scattered over a land which is no more than an immense desert.

The hero, a young black man who does not know his first name, comes across films from the Cineteca in Bologna in the scree of Paris.

He left for the Italian city with the desire to understand the origin of these pieces of celluloid which so intrigued the only loved one he had left.

On its way, a rusty sign reads "viral epidemic quarantine".

"For the exteriors, we shot from Casablanca to the Sahara. It's not a fantasy. We know very well that in Deauville, it will be like in Tangier in maybe thirty years", specifies the director.

In this scary environment, where all vegetation seems to have disappeared, hope and life are reborn in the ruins of Bologna.

Confined in the cellars of the studios, an old man shows, on a projector with pedals, the cinema to the hero as amazed as his ancestors of the 19th century.

The ex-filmmaker is also jubilant because "it has always been better to watch films with strangers".

- "eating is a political act" -

Together, they leave for Athens, where it is rumored that the grass has grown back.

There they find a few hundred survivors who have forgotten what human relations were.

The sea is brown, the plants poisonous.

“A third of arable land has already been destroyed” in recent decades, underlined Philippe Desbrosses, scientist and co-founder of the AB (organic farming) movements in France and Europe.

Throughout the sessions organized by the hero, each one rediscovers tenderness, contact with the other as with the earth, laughter, then sex, and with the first fish seen in decades, the "pleasure of eating something other than cans of powder.

But the virus continues to kill.

The last men are coughing.

In the Deauville projection room, fifths echo them.

"The masks are for me something very shocking", confided the multilingual filmmaker in perfect French during the round table before exposing the shades of red and orange of the tomatoes he produces with a colleague in Italy .

For them, the urgency is to relearn how to feed oneself.

"Filmmakers have a tendency towards a kind of enormous self-pity. But making a film is nothing compared to commitment", to work "with the earth", considers Jonathan Nossiter.

But "like the choice to go see a film, the act of eating is a political act, of collaboration or of resistance," he concludes.

The winners are due to be announced on Saturday.

© 2020 AFP