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My meeting with the Collectif Jeune Cinéma

Cécile Ravel

My meeting with the Collectif Jeune Cinéma

Before I met the Collectif Jeune Cinéma, I was interested in the plasticity of multiple projections, within an “extended cinema”. I wanted to undo the normalization and trivialization of audiovisual distribution, and considered the supports, the formats, the scale, as plastic tools and significant mediums. Moreover, I defended the idea of the operator: to be one with the projectors and the projection, to be among the public and to interpret one’s score like an instrumentalist. I was confronted with the difficulty of showing my creations or of gaining institutional recognition of my work, the requests for subsidies from the DRAC (Regional Cultural Affairs Departments) coming up against a lack of knowledge of experimental cinema or of an ‘extended cinema’. My work did not fit in any of the categories of the contemporary Art: neither in “video art” nor in “installation” for the grant applications. Working with film essentially, I had more and more difficulty to find filming and screening equipments.

These two obstacles have forced me to reflect on supports and devices of projection, which could not remain neutral, but were part and parcel of the aesthetics and meaning of the image. The Collectif Jeune Cinéma was the answer to a challenge whose importance I discovered from one disappointment to another: to show, to spread the creative works, in conditions that respect the work of the filmmaker, and the meaning of the work. Especially when it implies a plurality of supports, and moreover, analog film. And to welcome a field of audiovisual creation other than the one established by the official cultural structures.

In 2001, during a screening by the Cinémathèque française on the Grand Boulevards dedicated to Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki whose extremely stimulating work I followed, once again I met my partners in crime from experimental cinema, of the UFR of visual arts of Saint Charles where I had taught during three years: Stéphane Marti, Joseph Morder, and other personalities that I had often met, like Pip Chodorov, on the occasion of nomadic screenings in different places in the capital. Marcel Mazé, whom I did not know yet, was present and after the discussion we had all together, Pip and Marcel offered me to show my works at the Cinéma La Clef, a few months later. There were Marcel, Sarah Darmon, then administrator of the CJC, and Orlan Roy in the room that day at La Clef. In the tiny projection booth, Stéphane Marti encouraged me and supported me with unforgettable kindness and dedication. After the screening, the exchange I had in the room with Sarah, Orlan, and above all Marcel was decisive. Marcel not only encouraged me to continue in the way of the extended cinema and the screenings-performances and above all invited me to join the Collective.

When I joined the Collective, I discovered, through the regular sessions, the catalog, the focus and the festival, a committed, faithful and benevolent group. The members of the Collectif were like a true family to me, with a variety of approaches, sometimes conflicting. But thanks to Marcel, I discovered the incredible diversity of this different cinema, which included all languages, and also, how much Marcel advocated for this opening. I remember during sometimes heated debates, how much he saw a distinction and a complementarity between experimental and different cinema. Marcel fought to maintain this diversity, which has continued until now, Laurence Rebouillon and Frédéric Tachou having continued this endeavor consistently. Each CJC screening was a revelation of the incredible diversity of its members’ practices, a questioning of my own reflection. I realized how much some filmmakers gave the filmic image a force of stupefaction that haunted me for days. Thus I was bewitched by the narrative plasticity of Stéphane Marti and Laurence Rebouillon whose work I was discovering more and more, while being fascinated by the contemplative or hypnotic achievements of Philippe Cote, Robert Todd and Viviane Vagh.

 

At each session, I left with a furious desire to film again and to question myself. Moreover, a dynamic of constructive exchanges and collaborative projects initiated by different members contributed to this emulation. I think of Balance des Blancs proposed by Carole Contant, and the impact Colas Ricard had in asking us to make our last Super 8 Kodachrome film, radically transforming my way of conceiving a film. The constraint of a single roll initiated by Colas made me reconsider the filmic material and my relationship to narration. From then on, my stories were oriented towards the filmed diary, facilitating their distribution, their visibility and even their creation.

The film journal brought me to reconsider the documentary film and to watch and listen more carefully to the films of Pierre Merejkowsky, Philippe Cote and Joseph Mordel, in their relation to the camera, becoming more mobile and using it as an extension of my body, integrating more and more the in-camera sequences (tourné-monté), following improvised rhythms and no longer more elaborate ones such as in the time of my films from the expanded cinema. This new phase of realization was nurtured by deep critical exchanges with Philippe Cote. Also during the regular screenings, or the Festival des Cinémas Différents et Expérimentaux de Paris (FCDEP), where each one discovered the last creation of the other. Our critical discussions on our respective work were deep, fruitful, and made us move forward considerably.

 

The depth of the personalities working in the Collective led me to take a step I would never have dared to take: to go to a more professional creation in 2010 with Plume, thanks to Bernard Cerf and Laurence Rebouillon. Collectif Jeune Cinéma being the distributor of the film opened the doors to regional financing. Laurence put her skills and energy to work on this project and its access to production, and funded a distribution copy in 35 mm with Dolby sound. Finally, I saw the diffusion of my creations widen thanks to the network of cultural distributors of which I was unaware, in connection with the CJC, like in particular Hubert Corbin in Montpellier at the festival Cinemed, and Simone Dompeyre in Toulouse with traverse Video. I was able to commit myself to the transmission pole especially, being a teacher myself  in Nevers and in charge of the free Super 8 workshop at ESAAB (École Supérieure d’Arts Appliqués de Bourgogne). It is Louis Dupont, initiator of the transmission project within the Collective, who allowed me to animate sessions for young audiences at La Clef, then at Mains d’Œuvres. And to offer my students from Nevers the opportunity to show their work at the Clef cinema in 2007 (Séance En avant la toute jeune garde). I insist on this feeling of belonging to a family that I felt when I returned to Paris, to Saint Ouen, to Bagneux, to Montreuil or rue des Écoles. I am always impressed by the dynamism and professionalism of the different coordinators and administrators I have met (Sarah Darmon, Raphaël Sevet, Daphné Hérétakis, Damien Marguet, Olivia Cooper-Hadjian, Julia Gouin, Victor Grésard, Théo Déliyannis…) and CJC personalities (Marcel Mazé, Laurence Rebouillon, Philippe Cote, Raphaël Bassan…), whose analysis and expertise in programming were and are remarkable, what remains for me the strength of the CJC which pursues this beautiful journey with the current team.

Version condensée d'un textes publié dans le webzine, Dérives. : http://derives.tv/ma-rencontre- avec-le-collectif-jeune-cinema/