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Joyful filmmakers

Jean-Pierre Ceton

Joyful filmmakers

I don’t remember how I discovered that there were screenings of experimental/fringe films at the Maison de la Culture, place St Michel in Paris. A paper in Le Monde or Libération? I met Marcel Mazé there and spoke to him about Dis/cours, a small film I had just made. The film was selected for the festival of Hyères and presented in Toulon where the festival was held that year (1976). Then I worked with the Collectif Jeune Cinéma for several years. I went regularly to Hyères, to present my films and host debates on the films after the screenings. I also helped managing the Collectf with Jean-Paul Dupuis, who was doing most of the job. I have a memory of the room in Quincampoix street which I believe was in the basement, was rather wet, which did not prevent the constant visits of resolute filmmakers. And joyful filmmakers like I discover it like a joyful surprise by seeing again some photos of the group at the time. We were, however, in the sad world of a prime minister, a certain Barre, whose civilizational project was the struggle against inflation. I have also been on the road with the CJC through the magazine Cinéma Différent which was the subject of many lively planning meetings. There were indeed real disagreements between the adepts of experimental and different films, of formalist, figurative and narrative films. It was so difficult to agree theoretically that we ended up choosing the order of publication of the articles in the magazine following the alphabetical order of the names of the author-filmmakers.
Just like today, it seems, these films of the years 1975/1982 that I am talking about were first of all fringe films. They were sometimes accused of being unprofessional. Yes, they were non-pro on the one hand, because they were made with almost nothing, advocating for a laissez-faire approach to the image that did not need to be clean. Yes, films that opposed to the emerging advertising cinema whose images were “polished”. Not completely professional cinema on the one hand, but real luxury on the other hand, as we produced the films we wanted, the CJC allowed a potential screening of these self-produced films. Different or experimental cinema in any case that was separate from commercial films. Whether or not they were more or less narrative, they were fringe films because they were full of life.