30th FID Marseille | 2019
"I have dived into the filmed archives of my company in order to try to understand how I get to develop my work through the years. I was interested to see how an artist evolves."
RÉTROSPECTIVE | Dir. Jérôme Bel | Comepétition FRANÇAISE
Première Mondiale / World Premiere
Retrospective condenses the evolution of Bel’s art and shows its transgressive beauty and how he connects immensely effective politics and a rare sense of entertainment and shared pleasure.
Hello Jérôme many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
I am fine thank you, a little bit too hot in Paris right now. But hey, climate change!
Are you looking forward to bringing Retrospective to FID 2019?
This will be your World Premiere & Retrospective is part of the French Competition, does this add any extra pressure on you?
There is no pressure at all, as the selection of the film was not expected at all. I am a choreographer, this film was to be screened in the field of dance, not in the one of cinema…So there is nothing to lose. On the contrary, I am super excited that the field of cinema becomes interested in my work.
Do you still get nerves ahead of your screening?
It will be my first one, so I don t know how I'll feel!
How would you describe your visual style?
As my esthetic on stage is very minimal, the way the performances are recorded are also minimal. Which is good as I am not a filmmaker, it is easier to be minimal.
Has dance always played a part in your life?
Yes, but as literature, theatre, visual art, music, philosophy, and cinema.
As a choreographer how much has your approach to dance and how you engage with people/audiences changed over the years.
Fortunately yes. As in the beginning, some spectators were very violent with my work. Some people hated it and they left during the performances slamming the doors or asking for their money back! Now it is more peaceful because I manage to bring my ideas in a more « diplomatic » way. Yes, I have grown as an artist. I am less naive and more manipulative probably, I know what to do with the audience in order for them to understand my ideas.
"Fame and success is shit. If you work for this, just stop, you won’t be happy."
Can you tell me a little bit about Retrospective what can we expect?
Sure. I have been working in dance for 25 years and I decided to look back to my work instead of looking forwards as usual. I have dived into the filmed archives of my company in order to try to understand how I get to develop my work through the years. I was interested to see how an artist evolves. Is it by chance, is there a goal, etc…Studying my now work I discovered how things have progressed step by step, artistic operations by artistic operations, with sometimes a little bit of chance. The film unfolds this journey.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
It is like a painter exhibition in a Museum, but as I use movement, it is a film.
What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?
The production was very difficult as I used the archive and we didn't get the rights for every movie, so the manager of my company as to deal with a lot of people in order to allow us to use their images.
How important is the collaborative nature in filmmaking for you?
Well, I didn't collaborate at all on this one, as I didn't shoot anything new for it. And in fact, I really wanted at this point of my work to isolate myself, to be alone. I had all the archive and I was editing alone in my head the different extracts. Sending my plans to the editor, he would sending me back what he has done, and then I was telling him to change this or that, and so on. It took a year of this.
How different is this film to your previous works?
It is my first film, I have nothing to compare with. I am a beginner.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Not at all. my passion was for theatre and mostly dance. The dance field which I belong to is a very open place, I can do whatever I want. if I want to write a text, if I want to make a film, dance producers will help me…This is an incredible place of freedom and experimentation. So this film is a new experiment for me as the last years I have been working a lot in Museums. It is quite exciting to penetrate different fields because all the rules and audiences are different.
Looking back is there anything you would like to do differently or change?
Yes, so many things…I did so many mistakes, I have behaved badly so many times, I didn't think enough on things, I didn’t work enough also, I am so lazy, etc….
Do you have any advice for any emerging filmmaker/choreographers?
Watch everything you can, and sometimes, of course, it is desperate because you see a lot of bad things, but you will learn a lot from the bad things. Fame and success is shit. If you work for this, just stop, you won’t be happy. If you work just for art ( dance or film or any other practises) you will have a great life. Because practising art is one of the most powerful experiences in life.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
I hope they will feel more emancipated from society and art rules.