Paradise Water

Ongoing project (2023)


The pilgrimage site of Lourdes is located in southwestern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Millions of pilgrims usually come there every year with the hope of being healed by the waters of Lourdes. But not during the pandemic. When the Covid-19 pandemic and fear paralyzed large parts of the world, restrictions prevented people from getting there.

In the fall of 2021, when the restrictions eased, I went there, filmed and talked to people about their hopes and faith in the healing of the water. During the conversations, different aspects of existential levels emerged.
For example, the socio-political reality that it is cheaper to go to Lourdes and hope to be healed, than to receive relevant medical care in many countries today. A miracle from God is more likely than political reforms that give everyone access to healthcare. And if you are not healed, faith gives relief at least.

In the film, conversations on location are mixed with Émile Zola's conversations with people in Lourdes, from the book of the same name. His book book which came out in 1894 was received as a documentary travelogue even though it is a novel. What interests me is comparing the stories of why people went there then, versus now. What unites through time, and what separates the societies?