Bartabas has directed two full-length films: Mazeppa (1993, awarded with the Technical Grand Prize in Cannes) and Chamane (« Shaman », 1995), both produced by Marin Karmitz.
His last opus, Galop Arrière (« Backward Canter»), is seen as a “tracking of memory” and a review of his whole journey and work.
Bartabas also directs all video recordings of the Zingaro Equestrian Theatre shows.
For a long time thought of as an equestrian utopia, the Galop arrière (« Backward canter ») requires for the horse and its rider to have an incredible bond and mastery, as well as the exceptional ability to move backwards while facing forward. It was thus natural for Bartabas, in order to evoke his whole journey and that of the Théâtre Zingaro, to choose this stately title, with a peculiar perspective; a way of going back in time without retracing his steps. Even though this project is indeed about exploring and bringing twenty five years of artistic adventures back to life, it is not a nostalgic recollection.
It is an original and accomplished film which is offered to us. The furious ardour of the Cabarets, the challenges of the Opéra, the magic of Chimère (« Chimera »), the pure beauty of Eclipse, the painful celebration of Triptyk, the active meditation of Loungta, the iconic bolting of Battuta, everything is there, and yet another secret, intimate, glimpsed story is written, using the words of the poets to tell the meaning of an unusual, risky, unyielding, inspired life.
A life, once and for all, in the shape of a cavalier fate.
Escaped from the Gulag on yakut horses, Dimitri, a former violinist from Moscow, and an old Shaman run away in the taiga. Before dying, the Shaman reveals to his companion that the spirits surround him, and that they will accompany him in his adventures and his encounters, through this vastness where no man can survive alone.
Dimitri escapes forever on his small yakut horse and will never fit again in the mold of the silent men who walk in line in the streets of Irkutsk.
(with English subtitles)
Cannes’ Official Selection 1993 (In Competition)
Technical Grand Prize – Cannes International Film Festival, 1993
Mazeppa is the story of a passion. The exclusive passion which binds two men to horses. The first one exhausts himself trying to paint moving horses: this is Théodore Géricault, a famous 19th-century artist. The other one takes pride in dominating them completely: this is Franconi, the squire leading a wandering troupe of horsemen and who is called “master”. What unites these two men, is the will of the master to teach Géricault what a horse really is, and Géricault’s thirst for knowledge. A film as beautiful as a firework, celebrating the sacred union of men and horses.
(with English subtitles)