Les États généraux du film documentaire 2015 LaScam Day

LaScam Day

The five films chosen from among the fifty finished films which received “Brouillon d’un rêve” seed fund grants testify to an immense creativity and variety of talents, but also to the singular writing styles, rigorous and inspired, that we had the pleasure of discovering…
This year once again, we are proud to have been able to encourage nearly eighty projects from among the one thousand two hundred submitted. And yet, how many of these films will be completed in a context of unsettling reforms and damaging budget cuts? Already, if 60% of the projects get made, only 41% are broadcast, mainly thanks to local television channels… But for how long?
Yes… We are still lucky in this country. Nonetheless isn’t it already time to say: “we used to be lucky”?
At the end of each “Brouillon d’un rêve” jury, we meet the winning creators and discuss their dreams, concerns, hopes. It is a privileged moment… And more and more they tell us stories of the difficulties they have putting a financing scheme together, projects that are blocked when local broadcasters no longer dare to commit themselves…
One of them sent us this strange account that we wanted to publish. Of course any resemblance with existing people or facts is pure chance, nevertheless it seemed to us that this text merits your attention…

Félicie Marboeuf and Euclide Posilippo

Diary of May 29, 2015

“That’s it!”
I emerge onto Avenue Vélasquez having just been pronounced recipient of a “Brouillon d’un rêve” grant at LaScam and I am proud. I know that the fund’s jury is demanding and favours films which adopt clearly marked cinematic strategies. I cross the wide avenue of the 8th arrondissement with haughty stride. How sweet it is to be a film director in this wonderful country!
At 4 pm, here I am in the office of a director of programming at a major public television corporation. A young woman welcomes me in. She is starting in the job and will only remain a few years. “That avoids the closet culture of courts and courtiers”, she notes. Obviously! “1789 is behind us. We’ve done away with the aristocracy and hobnobs!”
We laugh. I develop my idea of a free cinema language, of documentary film as another way of seeing, a way of thinking about the world, indeed a form of poetry. A counter-thinking even, against formatting, mainstream thought, mainstream form. Our spirits sing in unison and we seem to dance together. She listens, enthusiastic and silent. She says; “Yeeeeeeeeeaaaahhhh!” I propose a poetic film like Varda… “Yeeaahh!” A personal diary like Cavalier: “Yeeaahhh!” A social autopsy like Wiseman; “Yeeaahh!” A film in my style. “Ooooohhhh yeeeaaaahhhh! So lovely!!! So transversal!!!” I look at my watch. The meeting has lasted fifty-two minutes and I didn’t even notice the time fly by.
“Wait a minute”, says the director of programming.
“Still more? Haven’t we said everything? Aren’t we in total harmony?”
Her eyes suddenly flash. “My great genius, my wonderful creator, our harmony is so absolute, why don’t we co-direct the film! I’ll set the length, I’ll correct the commentary, I’ll control the editing!”
Enthusiastically, I add: “Yes, let’s share everything! And I, filmmaker, will be co-director of programming with you!”
She frowns. I move near her desk. I have the crazy idea of sitting down behind it. She does a throw and blocks me against the wall with a judo hold.
“Don’t even think about it. I alone know the hidden desires of the audience! What do you know about this job, so delicate, so fragile? You pretend to be a creator, what do you understand about television? Only journalists understand us, and even they… You claim to make creative documentary. But what is a creative documentary? There’s no such thing. TF1 got the courts to annul any definition of creative documentary back in 1989. You don’t even exist! You hear me? You don’t exist!”
My reason and my dignity slowly return: lower myself to this level of abjection? Never! My producer (yes, he was there!) is prostrate, slowly chewing up pieces of our contract. He groans, sad and lost, a child torn apart between such a viciously divided couple.
With hagard faces, we flee the offices of the public television corporation.
“We’ll talk to smaller broadcasters!” my producer puffs. “I have a cousin working at Plouhernec TV and another at Canal Fouillettes-sur-Oise. Then we’ll get some money from the regions and from the CNC Cosip support fund.”
Later, I dial the number of the CNC. My producer tells me to play my hand a little cooler. Isn’t the CNC a friend of creative artists? Hasn’t it always helped them, obstinately favouring the work of the mind, the freedom of form and audiovisual craftsmanship, occasionally producing such sublime jewels?
The phone rings. The waiting loop clicks in: “Let me be free…” Is this a good omen?
As the person in charge of my request is already handling 12,408 other files, I come up with R2D2, the new telephone answering system.
“If you have a film proposal, press 1.”
I press “1”.
“If you are happy to have pressed 1, press 7.”
I press “7”.
The synthetic voice continues:
“If your film is considered cr… cr… crea… creative…, please wait a few months…”
“If your film glorifies history, and highlights castles and domains belonging to the old French aristocracy, please press 4. You are entitled to an immediate bonus.”
My producer mumbles: “I knew it, they’ve been bought out by the Versailles tourist board”.
“If your film encourages an interest in science, press Pi 3.14.”
Desperately, we scream into the handset.
And, oh miracle, someone picks up the receiver. “Hello?” I hear from the other end of the line the sound of mocking neighing. I whisper to my producer: “What’s with the horses?”
He explains: “Taxis have got too expensive for the Ministry of Culture. The Audiovisual Department has got to do some extensive but cost effective PR in favour of its latest reforms, so it has decided to crisscross France in horse and wagon. An employee, dressed up as Zorro, trundles by all the local broadcasters marking their door with a black ‘z’ meaning ‘zero’!”
“Hoah,” we hear shouting from the other end of the line, “move it, you cruddy nag, or I’ll turn you into a pot of glue!”
My producer takes the phone from my hand and engages in conversation (he knows the rules of the game).
“Our proposal is a SCIENTIFIC subject, that’s for sure!”
“Great! BONUS! But our inspectors are extremely strict about the VIRTUOUS funding of your film. VIRTUOUS, everything must be VIRTUOUS, it’s our new religion, established by our new managers, all graduated from the very best business schools which ARE the glory and virtue of our Republic. You therefore have to raise one third of the budget which exists, one third which doesn’t exist, another third which will maybe exist one day, and a final third in direct contributions from the director. If the technical crew can throw in another third with their pocket money, bingo! You’ve won another bonus.”
My producer hangs up, horrified…
Seated on the banks of the Seine, we watch the sun go down behind the Ministry of Culture. As we silently eat our can of sardines bathed in oil, I feel the need to cry. My producer puts his arm around my shoulder.
“Come on,” he says, “don’t lose heart. There’s always the ‘KissKissBankBank’ route: you must have a few buddies, your parents’ retirement funds, something to invest in your creation? We could organise an auction selling crêpes. Don’t worry, it’ll be all right. It’ll be all right…”

Alexis T., grant recipient 2015

Excerpt from a text by André Dartevelle, Belgian documentary filmmaker and member of the “Brouillon d’un rêve” jury for two years, deceased this winter.

“The films we have aided are to the highest extent revelatory, a kind of social conservatory of the lives of women and men. The entire capacity for imagination of our time finds refuge there, filmmakers have captured human realities which, without them, would have escaped us and gone off to disappear in the void, nothingness, the unknown.
Making films requires an ecstatic effort, we have to deny ourselves to make them. We practically abstain from living our own lives and if we reveal what’s going on in existence today, is it not at the expense of who we were and sometimes of what we thought? Each project saves us from our past. It pushes us forward, renews us, renews our images when we strive to bring to light unperceived universes which swing back and forth from singular beings to irregular beings. We open eyes, our own and those of others, we force reaction from our passivities.
A great individual and collective effort at self knowledge and knowledge of others crisscrosses documentary cinema. Thanks to this effort, it is not the reality escaping us or remaining foreign to us which is captured, it is human reality which is chosen and defended.”

Debates in the presence of the directors.