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At what point do we, as filmmakers, consider that we’ve been helped? And do we actually need help? Personally, I think what I mostly need is to be left alone. I don’t wait nor hope for any help, just a bit of time and a bit of money, a bit of trust. Which doesn’t mean that I feel completely self-sufficient as a filmmaker but that to me a filmmaker must first and foremost create without anyone else. Even if that means that I need to be surrounded by a big team. Creating work without anyone else is knowing intrinsically that we must keep our distance, that we must be very disciplined in our solitude or we can’t carry out a project to its conclusion. At least no project that I can claim belongs to me. Creating without anybody means repeating endlessly like a confession that there’s no other way to access a bit of truth, a bit of beauty other than isolation and the sorry confrontation with my own means.
Nothing helps turn this tenacious and permanent solitude into a non-sterile state, including film criticism. No, it doesn’t help me make films. It doesn’t weigh on me any more than a good meal during a shoot. Which means it can influence my mood, make me grumble or smile for a moment but as soon as the work starts again, once I’ve digested the food, there’s nothing much left of this mood in my next shots. It’s not essential to make my work happen. It will never be.
However, film criticism has allowed me to desire cinema. Desire it with such force, with such blindness, that it made me believe that I would become a filmmaker. Yes, it’s probably reading reviews more than watching films that during my adolescence cemented my growing desire to make filmmaking my career. Maybe like Sunday school can make some kids believe in God. I knew nothing about cinema. I could barely watch films in the village I was living in but for everything I watched I would spend hours reading the reviews. So much so that I felt I was developing imaginary friendships, I gave in to the illusion of belonging to a company, to a band that lived far away in Paris as my room on the Espace Verts estate was magically transformed into a bit of the same Parisian pavement where this band would exchange ideas, warm up and charm me. I still remember articles by Lefort, Séguret and Azoury in Libération, texts by Le Roux, Jousse and Lalanne in the Cahiers du Cinéma. I remember books by Daney, Bergala and Bazin. An invasion of words, concepts, condamnations, benedictions. I dipped my toes in those waters and floated in them and they carried me and helped me maybe more sensually than intellectually. When I arrived in Paris, I tried to write about cinema a bit myself but strangely never really as a critic, never by joining an editorial board. I wrote but it was still from my bedroom on the Espaces Verts estate, I wrote from far away, with timidity and petty-mindedness without daring to be part of the wider conversation.