Ageing and/as Enduring: Discussing with “Turtles [that] don’t die of old age”

“Turtles do not die of old age” (Films de la tortue, 2010) is a documentary film that examines the everyday life of three elderly men in northern Morocco: Chehma, a former fisherman, Erradi a solitary innkeeper, and Abdesslam, a travelling musician.  The film’s producers, Hind Benchekroun and Sami Mermer give voice to these men as they slowly go about their activities, reflecting on life, death, and ageing.  They don’t do so by simply standing behind the camera to film these subjects  and to record their testimonies. As 24 Images critic Serge Abiaad (2011) argues, they film “with” the participants.

Adopting a similar approach, this paper discusses “with” the film, rather than merely talking about the film and its producers. Entering into dialogue with the film,  I explore some of the issues surrounding ageing and “old age”.  How does the capacity of the film as cultural product and fragment of public discourse,  bring these  to the fore?  More specifically, I explore the performativity of different media, objects and technologies in the life of the film’s three protagonists. The latter, I suggest, are instrumental to the ways in which these men establish, modify, and maintain various forms of connection to their world, their families, their home, and their work.  Through these media and the iterative social relations they make possible these men, and their practices, endure.  Following Isabelle Stengers (2005:48, 44), I consider endurance as the achievement of that which, through its adventures, “goes on mattering,” thereby “succeed[ing] in maintaining some thread of conformity between past and present”.

Researcher: Line Grenier

Clips from the film can be seen here: