Passage Secret

Brieuc Schieb

Screening format
Shown in Compétition #1.


Teenagers go into a trance through the choking game.

Text from the selection committee

Passage secret is told as a dissonant and falsely naive tale about the practice of the Indian dream, to make the wall of one’s own body, to leave adolescence through an imaginary window. The lucid emergence of a troubled reality is what we think we remember. Against all odds disenchantment is sweet. 

A surprising film by Brieuc Schieb who, after Brigitte, 2017 and La Tourbière, 2019, continues to decline a certain adolescent myth. 

Translation made by the translator

– R.G.


Can you tell me about the genesis of Passage Secret?

Brieuc Schieb

The starting material is a set of short educational films commissioned by the Louvre in the 1990s. They were made in the form of tales based on mythological epics to showcase the museum’s ancient collections. A voice-over accompanies works taken from the Oriental, Greek, and Egyptian departments. We see them come to life, scrolling over psychedelic landscapes in a frightening silence. As a child, I spent afternoons watching them on cassette tapes at my grandparents’ house. They aroused in me a mixture of fear and fascination.


I took advantage of the confinement to digitize the tapes and try to appropriate these materials. Through associations of ideas, the film became a parallel between these images and a game of hyper-ventilation that became popular in the early 2000s. The people around me during my college period used the name of the “Indian dream”. It was necessary to take short breaths before holding one’s breath, in order to provoke fainting, sometimes hallucinations. Derivative practices, such as the scarf game, gave rise to many stories and polemics about young people who died while taking up the challenge.


This type of contemporary hazing resonates with the archaic character of rites of passage, of the pure test of “virility”. In the same way, the legends that inspire the videos in the Louvre take up this pattern. There is always the question of a being who, in order to free himself from the family cocoon, must accomplish a heroic feat. In turn, Secret Passage describes mysterious paths to new worlds. It shows teenagers playing at losing consciousness, disappearing from their bodies to become idols themselves.


What technique did you use for its realization? And what was your creative process?

Brieuc Schieb

All the images in the film are recovered materials. It is a collage between three types of images. On the one hand, there are the archives of the Louvre. On the other, it is mostly videos shot on cell phones by teenagers who then uploaded them to Youtube and Dailymotion when these sharing sites were in their infancy. The bridge between these two registers are educational brochures seeking to warn young people against these dangerous games. Comic strips whose mediocre imagery melancholically expresses the parents’ overwhelming feelings. I tried to make the voice-over of the tales anonymous, to erase the names of divinities as well as their contexts. It was a way to desecrate them and put them on the same level as all those anonymous videos found on the web. I imagined myself as a kind of common imaginary, where all beliefs are mixed together in a syncretic world. Like children who manipulate and confuse the cultures of different civilizations with naivety.


How does your film fit into your work? Is there a continuity or a discontinuity in relation to your previous creations?

Brieuc Schieb

I don’t know how to define my work yet but there are recurring themes. A certain primary relationship to boredom interests me. The one where one lets one’s mind be haunted by the mysteries of the past, by candid questions about the world of the dead or invisible forces. These are often pretexts to find fantastic aspects in a raw material, sometimes documentary, anchored in contemporary realities. Adolescence is far from being a favorite domain, but as a significant stage of personal construction, it is an ideal intermediary to evoke these subjects. Finally, I am fascinated by the idea of possessing a type of images in an exhaustive way. Working the archive as other artists did in the early days of social networks by exhausting the ritual motifs of what was called “web 2.0. ». Now the profusion of images has long since made this kind of approach obsolete. But I sometimes try to re-iterate it by collecting images from the 2000s, like fossils that bear witness to this era. Behind their large pixels and their disgusting sound, the ways these videos were filmed and posted tell as well, coldly, how images circulate in 2020.