For nine years, Laurent Geslin has been surveying the forests of the Jura in the footsteps of the Eurasian lynx. This nature-loving photographer delivers his first film, which sets out to meet this little-known, secret and mythical animal.
Lynx by Laurent Geslin
In theaters this week
In the heart of the Jura massif, a strange call resounds at the end of winter. The superb silhouette of an Eurasian lynx weaves its way among the beeches and firs. He calls his female. By following the life of this couple and their kittens, we discover a universe that is close to us and yet unknown… An authentic story in which chamois, eagles, foxes and ermines are the witnesses of the secret life of the biggest feline in Europe which remains threatened… A film to discover the essential role that this discreet predator plays in our forests, the balance that it has restored in a fragile environment but also the difficulties that it encounters in a landscape largely occupied by humans.
AlloCiné: What memories do you have of your first encounter with a lynx?
Laurent Geslin (director) : It was in 2011, I heard on a forest path the call of the lynx in love nearby. The animal stopped “singing” and I looked for it in the dark because I knew it was looking at me. It took me several long minutes to see the silhouette of the majestic feline sitting behind a tree… a shiver ran through my body, I had just fulfilled a childhood dream: to see the Eurasian lynx in the wild.
What does this animal represent to you?
It represents an essential link in the balance of the forest. What is interesting to underline is that it was not “City Bobos” who released the lynxes in the 1970s, but rather forestry engineers and loggers tired of seeing the young trees graze by roe deer and chamois. Upon his return, the lynx dispersed the herds and since then the forest is doing much better in the Jura. A solution to a problem that Man managed to solve intelligently.
Tell us about the genesis of this authentic and natural film, shot for a year after nine years of location scouting and photos?
As a nature lover, I dreamed of working on such an animal. I had filmed and photographed big cats, such as tigers, jaguars, panthers or lions in different parts of the world, but when I moved to the Jura mountains, I realized that no documentary had been filmed with totally wild lynx! All had been filmed using trained or captive animals. The challenge for this film was therefore to succeed in filming the animal in its natural environment. I took some time to identify and follow certain individuals, and over time I understood a little about their secret lives. The Swiss production JMH&Filo wanted to see my first photos and offered me a film for the cinema. The adventure therefore continued by re-writing the story and the MC4 production team joined us, providing real support for my very first feature film.
Following in the footsteps of the lynx is a game of patience, sometimes rewarded after several months. What does it feel like to FINALLY capture the desired footage?
Every time I see the lynx, I go home like a kid: I feel very privileged to be able to observe, and sometimes film, such a discreet animal. But the best feeling is filming him when he doesn’t see me, when he lives his life and I observe him without disturbing him. That’s what I tried to convey in the film.
The editing reveals, as the film progresses, more and more traces of human presence. Have you seen humans invading lynx territory over this decade?
The lynx was reintroduced by humans exactly 50 years ago. At the time, the fragmentation of territories or forests was not so important, there were not as many cars. Now the big problem for the survival of the lynx is the continuity of his kingdom. There is no more place to go and we regularly find young people in search of a territory crushed on the road. The problem of poaching is also a real concern. In the Vosges, there were just over 20 lynx; in the early 2000s, they all disappeared mainly due to illegal shootings. If we are not ready to accept the presence of this magnificent feline in our regions, its future is very uncertain.
During the sequence, for example, of the loggers at work without realizing the presence of lynx a few meters away, the film questions us about everything that we do not see… or no longer see in the world around us.
What fascinates me in nature is to understand this parallel world that is active around us and that we no longer see. Birds do not scream to delight our ears, they sing to mark their presence in front of other congeners. Insects and other butterflies do not visit flowers to delight our eyes but to perpetuate an entire ecosystem of which we are part. The lynx is not there just because it is beautiful but because it is essential for the regeneration of the forest. The non-human “living” possesses a universe of meaning, communication, complex interaction, sometimes of incredible ingenuity. I’m sure if everyone, at least once, took the time to sit down under a tree for just one morning to listen and watch everything that’s going on around us, we wouldn’t. would not have the same condescending gaze on what is called Nature.