Directed by
Cyril Barbançon, Andy Byatt & Jacqueline Farmer

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Three filmmakers capture the destructive trajectory of a Category 4 cyclone in 3D.


Imagine if Roland Emmerich had directed an episode of Storm Chasers, and you’ll get a vague idea of what it’s like to sit through Hurricane (Ouragan), an eye-popping stereoscopic exploration into the heart of a tropical cyclone as it wreaks havoc over several Caribbean islands and parts of the American south.

Shot in 12 countries over four years by the trio of Cyril Barbancon (serving as d.p.), Jacqueline Farmer (credited as producer) and Andy Byatt (BBC’s Planet Earth), this globetrotting documentary literally plunges the viewer underwater and straight into 200 kilometers per hour winds to track the turbulent path of a fictional hurricane (named “Lucy”) that begins its life on African shores and ends it somewhere in the U.S., leaving considerable damage in its wake. Featuring some of the most startling natural images in recent memory, the Franco-Belgian co-production, which opened this year’s International Environmental Film Festival in Paris, will be released in 2D, 3D and Imax formats, and deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

satellit view of a hurricane
A hurricane seen from a satellite.

Capturing Lucy’s emergence across the Atlantic as she transforms from a sandstorm in Senegal to a Category 4 hurricane erupting onto the shores of Puerto Rico, the filmmakers utilize every imaginable angle — from a satellite’s viewpoint in space to the miniscule struggles of an ant colony — to depict the typhoon’s destructive journey over land, air and sea. (Per the press notes, Lucy is in fact an amalgam of 12 hurricanes that the crew shot and cut together to recreate a single storm cycle.)

Entire forests are uprooted, villages are demolished and local wildlife either washed away or, if lucky, put into safe shelter — one memorable scene has a flock of flamingos stored in a tiny Cuban bathroom; another shows cows escaping the flooding by waiting on a country porch in Louisiana — until Lucy heads on to her next victim, eventually losing momentum as she blows through New Orleans and points north.

Barbancon and his team certainly required lots of heavy gear (including all the 3D rigs) plus a fair amount of raincoats to shoot the various tempests without getting blown away themselves, and Hurricane is most impressive when the directors remain planted in one position as the world around them is torn apart by the wind and rain. One particularly breathtaking sequence, filmed on an evacuated street at night, reveals the sheer force of a downpour that hits the ground like sheets of steel, to the point that it looks more like a computer-generated disaster than the real thing.

The action is peppered with commentary by weather experts and storm survivors, while a voiceover — freely inspired by the Victor Hugo text “La Mer et Le Vent” and read by actress Romane Bohringer (Total Eclipse) — tries to add a poetic side to the proceedings but doesn’t seem necessary, especially with so many potent images that speak for themselves.

Editors Luc Plantier and Philippe Ravoet do a great job taking viewers from the macro to the micro, and from devastation to rebirth, as Lucy’s long and destructive voyage is ultimately shown to be part of the natural order of things. A soothing score by Yann Tiersen (Amelie) is dwarfed by all the sounds of crashing thunder, breaking waves and broken homes.



"HURRICANE is the story of the birth, life and death of one storm, called Lucy. She travels from Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Islands to end her life in America, wreaking havoc and destruction on her way. But more unexpectedly she also brings new life to the natural world and understanding to the men and women who cross her path." Director Jacqueline Farmer on HURRICANE: A WIND ODYSSEY which screens at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?

Yes to both questions!

So tell me a little bit more about yourself!

Cyril Barbancon, Andy Byatt and I all come from Natural History film-making backgrounds. We have been working together, off and on, for many years.

satellit view of a hurricane
Hurricane Lucy seen from the outer space.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

HURRICANE was a long and ambitious project. It began with a common and challenging desire to make a film about something invisible...the wind. And because that wasn't difficult enough, we decided to shoot it in 3D. So began a five year journey, of technical research and development and shooting 3D in the field. We took our cameras into storms, underwater and into the skies. Key collaborators were our local producers in Senegal, in Puerto Rica, in Cuba, in the US and our cinematographers, camera assistants and sound. Not everyone wants to be part of a film crew in the eye of a hurricane. It takes rather special people to do that.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you?

Magic moments. Moments that take your breath away. When everything is just there unrolling itself in front of the camera and you know you've got it. Like the sandstorm we filmed in Senegal. We didn't even script it, because we knew the likelihood of filming a sandstorm, of being in the right place, at the right time, with the 3D cameras rolling was practically zero. And suddenly there it was, right in front of us. And it was scary, because we had no idea what was going to happen, whether the sand would get into the cameras and kill them, whether we would be able to breathe, but it was exhilarating at the same time. Those moments made all the rain, and the wind, and the cold, and the mud and the flat tires worthwhile.

Sounds like you had a lot of challenges. What would you say is the biggest one?

There were so many ! Production, artistic, technical. One of the toughest was the logistics and getting the crews into the storms. We would sometimes have only an hour or two to take the decision to send them or not, to find fixers in places we had never been to before, to do virtual recess of the locations, to find flights, vehicles; sometimes we would send them and the hurricane would not make landfall, or it would make landfall but not where it was supposed to, or it would make landfall at night and then there would be a power cut and we couldn't film. And sometimes the crew would be in exactly the right place at the right time and we would spend the next two days biting our fingernails, worrying about their security.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

My favourite moments are, in retrospect, the looks. The looks exchanged between us in the field. Just a flash, and you knew whether we had to get out, fast, or not, whether the situation was critical, whether we had the shot. We came to know and trust each other so well, that a look was enough for the other to know. That is a beautiful thing.

I would love to know about the tech side of the film and the 3D, and how you put that all together.

We were working closely with NASA, as we have a lot of space scenes in the film. We also have a lot of underwater footage and forests. All these environments are really good in 3D, because they put the spectator there. However we were obliged to spend months and months designing and building practically everything; our 3D rigs which we had to storm proof, our time-lapse camera system, the underwater rig and the project required specific camera solutions.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at VIFF?

This will be the first time the film has been shown to a North American audience, so we are really looking forward to the reactions. Hurricanes are a phenomenon that people are familiar with here.

Where is this movie going to show next? Any theatrical release?

The film is going on to several more festivals, in Rome, Mexico, the US and Cuba before being released in June of next year.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

Well maybe they're texting their friends to say they are watching a great movie! Cinema is a shared experience. That is why it is so wonderful and will never die.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

If you love it, really love it with a passion, to the point that there is nothing else you can do with your life, you will make your films.

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

That is a very hard question. We have seen so many courageous, moving films at festivals and discovered so many cultures and countries through them. Perhaps Emir Kusturica's UNDERGROUND. It was a shock. A journey.

Ouragan : quand le vent nous souffle son histoire, une sacrée secousse !

Olivia Bugault, PUBLIKART

satellit view of a hurricane
A hurricane seen from the outer space.

Il a fallu 3 réalisateurs, Cyril Barbançon, Andy Byatt et Jacqueline Farmer, ainsi que la participation de la NASA pour réaliser Ouragan. Le documentaire, en salle le 8 juin, est une immersion à l’intérieur de ce phénomène naturel dévastateur.

L’ouragan que nous suivrons pendant 1h30, se nomme Lucy. Personnifié, il possède un nom et une voix, celle du narrateur qui nous éclairera tout le long du film. Il a une histoire aussi : d’abord tempête de sable au Sénégal, il grossit pour se transformer en ouragan. A Porto Rico, il fait ses premières victimes puis il grossit pour dévaster le sud de Cuba et enfin traverse la Louisiane avant de disparaitre. Au plus fort de sa puissance, ses vents soufflent à 240 km/h avec des rafales atteignant 270 km/h. Il inonde les terres sur son passage.

Alors qu’aux premières minutes du film, l’inquiétude pointe : projet hybride, croisement d’un documentaire animalier et de prévisions météorologiques, on prévoit de s’ennuyer mais lorsque la tempête éclate, on est ahuri. La violence et la puissance ont toujours séduit l’homme.

“Derrière ces images, se cache une prouesse technique et humaine !”

A partir de l’idée folle d’observer ce monstre de l’intérieur, l’équipe du film a fait route avec lui dans 12 pays sur 3 continents. Transportées dans l’œil de l’ouragan sous des housses imperméables, les caméras 3D ont filmé la forêt caribéenne, les récifs coralliens, les côtes cubaines en plein tourment. Un tournage qui s’étale sur 4 ans.

L’utilisation de la 3D amplifie la puissance des images et favorise la plongée dans l’ouragan. Pour un peu, on en sentirait les bourrasques. Elle met également en valeur une nature sauvage et malmenée habilement capturée par une variation de plans serrés et élargis : paysages et « zooms animaliers ».

La force du documentaire réside dans son parti-pris : « Je serai le monstre si je n’étais la merveille ». Et tout est dit. Les plans post-ouragans s’enchainent : animaux déchiquetés, maisons éventrées, hommes désarmés et pourtant, il n’y a nulle accusation mais de l’admiration et de la résilience face à une telle puissance brute. Les caméras se posent avec douceur sur ce cataclysme qui soulève la mer et aplatit la terre. Le narrateur, qui n’est autre que Lucy, s’innocente avec emphase, trop d’emphase, « Je rends l’air respirable, la terre habitable et l’homme possible ». Lucy restaurerait un équilibre perturbé par l’homme. Ce film nous rappelle ce que nous sommes : pas grand-chose. Ce chiot à la dérive sur une planche de bois flottante, nous ne pouvons pas le sauver. Cette femme, courbée, le visage recouvert de ses mains, qui attend la fin de l’ouragan dans un préau, nous ne pouvons pas la consoler. Ce film est dur parce qu’il ne dissimule pas la misère de ceux qui subissent, il échauffe notre impuissance et malgré tout, il exalte la beauté de l’ouragan. On s’y perd.

“L’homme et la nature : qui est le maître ?”

Il y a les hommes aussi. Des hommes divisés face à ce phénomène. Dans un cockpit alors qu’il traverse le haut de l’ouragan, un pilote s’exclame « C’est une belle tempête ». En bas, ceux qui la subissent, impuissants, se désolent : « à un moment, je ne savais plus quoi faire, je me suis assis sur une pierre et j’ai pleuré » se dévoile un Cubain à la maison en ruine. Ceux qui l’observent l’admirent et ceux qui en souffrent la craignent. Et il y a aussi toutes ces petites mains qui tentent d’anticiper la trajectoire de Lucy et de mettre les populations à l’abri.

On est loin de l’action movie américain où une poignée de héros téméraires bravent l’ouragan pour sauver des innocents. Ce film est beaucoup plus exigeant et moins divertissant : il nous instruit, nous stupéfie et nous impose le respect. C’est un pari osé que de présenter au public une force qui le surpasse. Tragique, impressionnant et beau tout simplement, il mérite le détour des spectateurs avisés qui ne sont pas là que pour se vider l’esprit !

Dai mari caldi un vortice d’aria distruttivo che porta la morte ma anche la vita: questa la riflessione di “Hurricane 3D”


house destroyed by a hurricane
Damaged house destroyed after a hurricane.

I cicloni nascono in genere nei mari tropicali, a causa dell’alta temperatura e della rapida evaporazione dell’acqua. Sono tempeste violente in grado di provocare centinaia di vittime e danni ingenti quando raggiungono la terraferma e scatenano piogge e venti molto intensi. Il regista Andy Byatt porta tutto questo con un uso sapiente del 3D in “Hurricane” tra i titoli della Selezione Ufficiale della Festa del Cinema di Roma.

E’ una vera delizia per l’occhio il film di Andy Byatt sulla paura dell’uomo nei confronti delle catastrofi naturali, con un’attenta riflessione però anche sul miracolo della vita. L’arrivo di un terribile uragano diventa una metafora per mettere l’uomo davanti a se stesso, con tutti i suoi limiti che questo comporta. Dopo l’arrivo dei monsoni in Senegal, una tempesta di sabbia diventa il ciclone Lucy che porta distruzione da Cuba agli Stati Uniti, con incredibili conseguenze per tutti gli esseri viventi: dalle piante agli animali, per finire dulcis in fundo agli esseri umani.

La voce del ciclone Lucy come escamotage narrativo per raccontare cosa succede tra cielo, mare e terra durante un ciclone tropicale

Immagini potenti e bellissime, potenziate dal 3D, coinvolgono lo spettatore in un viaggio con se stesso. Come in una visione metafisica dell’universo la forza della natura travolge tutto ciò che incontra: acqua e terra si confondono tra piogge torrenziali e onde del mare alte otto metri. In mezzo a tutto questo, la camera inquadra formiche, uccelli, rane, cani, cavalli, fenicotteri e persino armadilli e camaleonti, per poi passare agli uomini. Loro si difendono come possono e cercano di salvare le proprie case, con tutti i ricordi che esse contengono.

Alla fine dopo il terrore e la paura, ritorna il sereno, e la vita ricomincia. Il regista usa come escamotage la voce narrante del ciclone Lucy che parla allo spettatore mentre scorrono le immagini di una bellezza straordinaria, basti pensare che per fare questo film il regista ha collaborato con la Nasa. Fanno da degno corredo al magnifico uso del 3D una colonna sonora perfetta e le poche ma importanti parole dette da tutti quelli che sono coinvolti dall’Uragano. E quello che viene fuori alla fine della proiezione è che per costruire qualcosa bisogna prima distruggere, proprio come il potente Lord Shiva del pantheon induista. Un film potente “Hurricane3D”, diretto da Andy Byatt, che arriva dritto al cuore dello spettatore con la sola forza delle immagini.

Hurricane 3d, il documentario mozzafiato con le immagini della NASA sbarca a Roma

Peppe Caridi, METEOWEB

Assistere alla genesi di un uragano, alla sua crescita il percorso, la distruzione e la nuova vita che genera: e’ quanto riescono a mostrare, attraverso spettacolari riprese in 3d in giro per il mondo e anche dallo spazio (grazie alle immagini ottenute dalla Nasa), i due registi Andy Byatt e Cyril Barbancon nel documentario Hurricane 3d (Ouragane, l’odysee du vent 3d), presentato alla Festa del Cinema di Roma. Byatt e Barbancon hanno seguito per oltre tre anni, fra cielo, terra e mare gli uragani, nel loro impatto sulla natura e sulle persone. Un ritratto al quale hanno aggiunto le immagini di centri meteorologici internazionali e quelle dallo spazio, ottenute dalla Nasa.

Ne e’ nata la storia dell’Uragano Lucy, ”nato il 15 agosto e dichiarato morto il 12 settembre”, che nel film si racconta in prima persona (i testi sono ispirati anche da scritti di Victor Hugo) attraverso la voce di Paloma Garcia Martens. Seguiamo l’uragano dalla sua nascita, fra le nuvole del Senegal, dove aspettano la pioggia da dieci mesi a Porto Rico, Cuba e il sud degli Stati Uniti, dove ne viviamo l’attesa, l’impatto e le conseguenze. Una distruzione tra case annientate, vite perse, sopravvissuti traumatizzati e paesaggi sconvolti.

Ma nella ‘macchina della natura’ l’uragano porta anche nuova vita: ”Senza di me non ci sarebbero fiumi, frutta, fiori?” ricorda Lucy.

« Volevamo scavare in profondita’, esplorare i sentimenti dei sopravvissuti – testimoni di eventi che hanno traumatizzato la psiche collettiva – spiegano i due autori nelle note di produzione -. Volevamo osservare la fragilita’ e la resilienza della Natura. Avevamo necessita’ di capire che cosa rappresenta la piu’ poderosa manifestazione meteorologica al mondo per le persone che vivono nelle zone a rischio. Volevamo essere presenti, la’, nell’occhio del ciclone, sull’orlo del baratro, quando si affrontano le paure inconsce e tutto sembra perduto, ma la speranza, in qualche modo, e nonostante tutto, sopravvive. »