Discovering experimental cinema as a child


Discovering experimental cinema as a child

To celebrate this half-century of existence, we asked the youngest filmmakers of the CJC to write, draw and share their experience within the Collectif Jeune Cinéma. Nino Pfeffer, Alexia Stefanovic and Ludivine Bénézech (also members of the selection committee for films by filmmakers under 15) responded to the request.

Discovering experimental cinema as a child

Almost five years ago, I participated for the first time in an experimental film competition organized by the Collectif Jeune Cinéma, without really knowing what it was about.

It was not until the final screening of the nominated shorts that I understood what an experimental film was, when I saw the as beautiful as intriguing images of a spoon of cocoa powder diluting in milk. This film of a few seconds, although so insignificant on the surface, had a profound effect on me (the proof being that I still remember it today).

If one had to define experimental cinema - a difficult task - the watchword would be: “freedom”. Freedom to create; freedom to share; freedom to feel. Because if the classic films remain pleasant to look at, they are however limited and restrained by rigid structure and codes. This is not the case with experimental films, in which absolutely everything is allowed: the only limit is the artist’s imagination. The vast majority of the films that we have the opportunity to see in the cinema is partly addressed to the reason. On the contrary, experimental cinema speaks exclusively to the heart.


The primary utility of this film genre is precisely experimentation, which can easily be associated with the scientific process: we experiment, we observe, we try again. We see what happens. We take the time to create, for the others as for ourselves, and if they don’t like it, too bad. In short, these are the joys of cinema without its shortcomings; no need to bother about verisimilitude, and even less to wonder if the film will be successful or not.

The brilliant idea of the Collective was to give this opportunity of creating to the children of the entire world. I am referring to the youngest of them - they, more than anyone else, need to express themselves, and they do so on their own, whether with a cheap camera or their parents’ smartphone. Participating in this kind of competition provides them with the opportunity to share their work, bringing it to life. As for teenagers, who are older, the benefits are no less: the CJC provides them with both personal and professional, allowing them to take their first step into the vast world of cinema.

Five years ago, when I proposed a short film to the Collectif (which I had discovered through a family member), I had no intention of continuing in the cinema later. Then, completely unexpectedly, my film was nominated, and my family and I traveled across France to Paris to attend the screening. I tasted completely new flavors, discovered films that were each more admirable and exciting than the last, and meeting filmmakers of my age. And above all, a memorable event, I saw myself for the first time in my life on a movie screen.

This experience undoubtedly influenced my desire to enter a high school with a “Cinema -Audiovisual” major when I was in second grade. My professional desires were confirmed by themselves, while I multiplied the projects with my friends and deepened my knowledge of cinema. The Collective contacted me again at the end of my junior year, and I was delighted to hear from the group that gave me so much, and to whom I owe what I have become. I am now entering the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, and I still remember with emotion the screening of 2016 that changed my life.

We did that drawing with younger friends by asking several persons about what they discovered with cinema. Memories, discussions full of emotions.

— Ludivine Bénézech

Ludivine Bénézech / "We made this drawing with younger friends by asking several people about what they discovered at the cinema. Memories, discussions filled with emotions."

Alexia Stefanovic

What is experimental cinema
for me? A few months ago,
the Collectif
Jeune Cinéma
asked me this question.


After a long time of procrastinating
while looking for an original way to write this text,
here is my answer:

“Oh cinema!
What would I be without you?
You reinvent yourself every day
to satisfy the young and the old,
always more innovative.

But aren’t you out of breath?

Technology is catching up with you,
aren’t you afraid of ending up like an old slipper?


Because you are experimental.
A cinema that does not experiment

and does not take any risks is,
in my opinion, a dead cinema.

Because the future lies in
what we don’t know yet.

So thank you, dear experimental cinema,
for existing.

Thank you for allowing the young
and the old to innovate.
And thank you for inspiring me,
always looking for more ideas

to reinvent and create yourself.

Because deep down, it’s as if
you have always existed, but
you will never be fully achieved.