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It was a snowy day. At least it is what I remember. Walking back home after school in the first snow was a magic moment. I was 7 years old and I remember that quiet and peaceful atmosphere that only snow can create. All sounds are deaden and all I wanted – or pretty much wanted – was to get back home to find my cat.

All the way back, which wasn’t a very long way – perhaps a couple of kilometers – I couldn’t help looking at the sky. In those days darkness came quite early and we could see some stars very soon. So with my red hard leather backpack on the back I felt like flying above the ground, like floating in this cold but life-giving air.

I remember the feeling : I thought it was the best moment on earth. The best moment ever. And that this moment might be the last one.

Actually the days before, spying on the TV – or should I rather say listening from the corridor to the switched-on TV – I was busy paying attention to the news. Gorbachev, Reagan, nuclear power, spies, Afghanistan, if no signature or agreement the end of the world as we know it.

I think I tried to explain it to my cat, but she didn’t realize it. Well being honest my way of explaining her my fears were done in a pretty funny way : I used to lay on floor of my room, trying to not breath. I pretended to be dead after a bombing. What mattered to me was the cat’s reaction : will she find me back, ask for cuddle and show me some desperate love and a deep sadness of loosing her master ?

Years went by and that stays as a memory,  that tension I felt for a couple of weeks when going school disappeared. So did those international tensions (somehow). So did the medias in moving onto other news (yes like the Gulf wars, 9/11, etc…)

Funnily enough in Switzerland every house in those days had a nuclear shelter, obviously build underground. In most of the houses it was used – and still is –  as an extra cellar, a disposal room or quite often as the kids playroom. Toys next to food cans next to sugar next to old newspapers.I believe that nowadays the amount of toys and old newspapers totally outmatched the goods.

As I commented many times, I wasn’t born here, in Europe. As a fact my ancestors – and not that long time ago (only 1870’s) are from Europe. An interesting mix of Western and Central European fellows that for many reasons left the continent to have a better life, or simply a life somewhere else. To exist, no matter what they are or came from.
If we are back to this continent, it is because our future was endangered in South America ; if that sub continent could avoid all damages from the World Wars, the legacy of colonialism carried into most of the World the same seeds that provoked those European driven conflicts.

So is it that the Eurasian continent has been seen as lifesaver for my family and for me. Deep inside I have this believe that culture, respect, open minds are the low hanging fruits in this orchard. We were the victims, like many others in what is called the Third World, of fascism, lack of freedom, single-minded doctrines, post colonialism conflicts, debate free societies – some other type of low hanging poisonous delights. I grew up in an ideal perspective where every point of view – even some disturbing – could be discussed and resulted into positioning of individuals and societies. By  agreeing or not, respect of laws and people, in many different ways. A common objective of not repeating the errors of the past. Yes I saw Western people, Euro-Asians , North Americans like the saviors of us, poor victims. Of course It never meant these places were idiots-free. There is stupidity everywhere, but I thought the wealthy and cultivated have a good way to handle them.

These days, no need to detail what’s happening, we all know too little and too much, we know all is right and wrong, every side in every conflict has good and bad reasons and both interests can be accepted or denied. Just like in an argument with your partner, no one is fully innocent, no one is fully guilty. Yes you know it. Yep hard to accept…I know I know…It makes me think that quite often, and it is the same with acting, many strategies are applied during a couple’s quarrel. Actually it is even the same when a kid asks for something and the parents say no. It shifts from seduction to pleading ignorance to cries and the most often from tyrannic anger to absolute victim outfit. Again you know what I am talking about. So do actors.

Unfortunately for me, my childhoods feeling of last day on earth came back. Not that there is a true fear in there. No I realized and understood that what was scary as a child is sad beyond its limits as an adult. And even more when I see all around me, in the civil society, nothing but people considering themselves like victims. Having a collection of all the most precious treasures that mankind ever dreamed of and they feel like the biggest victims. And all their reactions, thoughts and behaviors are excused by being “the ultimate victim”. I am a bigger victim than you so in the name of my decency – as it is all what’s remaining – I have all rights and no responsibilities.

I am free of any moral duty linked to my acts as I fight for my survival. I thought this was only the claim of uneducated hopeless oppressed  about to die poor people from what is being called the Third World – where I am from. In these days I understand when it can come from the people who had to suffer the biggest from the financial crisis. Hard to hear it when it comes from everywhere and on everything – literally from Geo-politics to personal work.

In those moments I feel discouraged and tricked. I feel like this naive dream of my parents to offer us a better world to live in, a place where you can move from being a victim into an active educated responsible person was a shadow. A concept that no one here wants to grasp any more as hope and future seem to vanish. Is it possible that all the conflicts on this part of the world, since thousand of years taught people to only react with what they know…which means lack of hope and chaotic presumed solutions ? Just like a cheap 2 € therapist would say that beaten children become abusive parents ? Did it discourage them from finding new ways and solutions and a low acceptance for what life is made of , which is uncertainties ? Did a certain comfort make a lot of people lazy and brainless on this side of the globe ? Just like a very clever man, a farmer who had a tough life told me recently for my movie : the advantage we have, us, oldies, versus the young ones , is that we had nothing when we started, and all what we have we collected it on the very late….

I know that there is something deep in human beings, in their nature, in ourselves, that pushes us to find guilty ones and dramatic fast solutions. But so many amazing things have been achieved by those same humans ! If instead of collecting whose nation have the biggest amount of poets, writers, Nobel prizes and great generals to know who’s the greatest and rightful,  we would sum up this for the mankind ? A reason to all be proud of it ?Just like the recent discovery about the Big Bang’s earliest moments ?

And not a victim of the non recognition of my personal greatness from the others. A victim of the lack of interest of our nation amazing genius from the other countries ? A victim that what my faith is not the same as yours and my uncertainties and doubts of my beliefs are actually your fault ? And the most stupid : I am a victim of the entire world not being like the way I want it to be but it freaks me out so therefore everything , everyone is guilty and let’s fix it the way it should be…that no one knows about ?

Maybe those are just the results of what our frenetic materialism drove us into : feeling like things, treating others like things…. Maybe this victimization is the voice of our souls crying in distress…

I believe that my cat understood what my little drills were about. I think she understood it far too well as she stayed by my side for almost 22 years ! She died years ago and it was to me to stand by her side on her last moments. That happened many years ago.

Since 5 years I have a new cat and it never came to my mind to play that game again. Instead of waiting for her to come and save me, I look at her and ask myself what does it take to make her a happy world to live in.

I have no clue how this started but all I know is that I am stuck in it now, and it will end soon I presume…or should I say I hope…

Working on a movie takes a lot : time, efforts, researches, contacts, transactions, focus, thoughts, imagination and the more preparation you have, the best it is when comes the time to press the rec button. However even if fully prepared you can’t buy the success.

Some time ago I heard a speleologist on the radio in a very interesting interview that started with : ” what I like about my job, our should I call it condition, is that I must know when to give up. And I give up far more often than reaching my goal “. Quite surprising statement …

With time passing and slowly getting older, I must admit that my first sport passions that were basketball and beach volleyball are replaced by a long time forgotten passion : hiking, trekking and every possible mountain activity.  So less running after a ball but more climbing up the hills and hoping to reach some summits.

After coming back from shootings, I am sometimes quite tired, and the last times I arrived home, I had a quick meal and then while loading and “backuping” the data ( I miss the tapes !!), I went on some internet surfing and looked on for nice summit images. It lead me to , of course, from one mountain to another to virtually reach the top of the world : the Everest. But after the traditional National Geographic on how it was created, you enter what is as well a sort of dead zone : the mountaineering reality shows.

And there is a scale of emptiness to sort them out. As well as you are having less oxygen the higher you get, the brain of tv spectators suffers from hypoxia the deeper you go into the concepts.

I used to work for a leading sportswear and great outdoors company some years ago. It was a childhood’s dream to work ifor it – being emotionally attached to the brand – and If by then I wouldn’t have suffered from a severe health issue, I am sure my path back to a sort of  mountaineering would have matured faster. A key word by then was – in 2009 – that sportswear items are taking over the flat grounds and every day’s life.

DIscovery channel followed from 2006 to 2009 (if not mistaken) climbers that were attempting the top of the Everest. Those alpinists pay approximately 70.000 USD and a guide’s organisation takes care of all. They are assessed by the leader if they can make it or not. Nobody votes via phones, you just follow those guys in their adventure.A standard documentary ? Not really….more a reality documentary show with dramatic music and stereotyped characters. But no overwhelming camera system.

Having watched that , I moved onto another continent to see about the highest point in America  : the Aconcagua. And what has been my surprise when I saw a tv program called : “el conquistador del Aconcagua”. To make it short and simple, it is a survival reality show where a couple of chosen ones will attempt a final push to the summit….after going through tests, nominations and eliminations….
None of the candidates has experience in mountaineering and only a couple seem to have a genuine interest into such activities…

I thought I was already out of breath, but I realized that my own personal climb would lead me to some extreme conditions : “Los Trepadores” or a chilean big brother stuffed with top models, pop singers and young overbreasted brainless people. Here it is simple : over 4 months they ll train them and some that would survive the boot camp might try to reach the summit. Their guide, a chilean experienced mountaineer that climbed the Everest in the 80s told them the most beautiful sentence ever : ” When climbing a mountain, you embrace a total freedom that you don’t have in any other sport ; no referees, no audience. Only one rule : it is all about you and the mountain ”

For now those people are parked in a base camp, far far away from their target  in low altitude, with jacuzzi, free food and drinks, outdoor showers to film girls in bikinis…well just another big brother….

Often guides say that the mountain doesn’t belong to anyone – and it is good to see more people sharing the passion of going up there. Everyone has a different reason for doing it and all became far more accessible than it used to be in the past….

6962 m above sea level…for almost everyone ?

by the way, “Trepadores” dictionary definition is :” people who use any possible way to climb up to a new range….translation in english is “go-getter” or “place-seeker”….

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Today ‘s a day when on top of writing down the shooting journal of the movie (scenes, lengths, focus, etc etc), it is time to clean some old pictures files.

Indeed as I am starting a new photographic project, I thought it could be good to dive into old stuff, to understand which direction I am taking in that project. It made me realized I am always stretched between 2 poles : one that is more on the fashion side, and the other on the realism.

For me I call the first one my legacy photographic mind, and the second the attractiveness of life.

So let’s share some of the first category, more to come on the second…

and if you ask yourself what is the new project about, well a true mix of both !!

 

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Some days are stranger than others. As I was getting ready and looking forward to the next shooting days, my health told me “you have to postpone those days for later…”.

I must say it brings me a bit down….because I really enjoy this project !

I like it because it forces me to reconsider myself, my beliefs and certainties. I enjoy it as well because of the great energy brought by all the participants (actors, inhabitants, authorities, pets, sound designers, editors, etc…). This makes the outcome even more interesting as I can’t believe, unless I am totally blind, that the movie that will be created out of all this cannot be touching.

As the snow falls down outside, I ask myself if it is naive ? Am I naive ?

When I started what I can define as my first professional career – actually my first job, all I had in mind was to be the best, to establish my situation, to reach a well deserve management position, well to be the number one so …well so what ? so everybody would be proud of me, and I could show I had all the attributes of a happy successful man.

I must say I am part of that generation whose parents asked them to reach a better life level ; become a doctor, a lawyer or get any important role in the society. Be better than us son. A great advice, but for parents born right after the war, the model of success isn’t what today’s parents teach and hope for the Y or Z generations. At least I hope.

Was then my behaviour naive as well ?

When I left the straight path to a future senior management, which was the logical next step, I followed a decision – hardly followed actually – that I had made 10 years before. Moving from the so close recognized success to climb another ladder.

I embraced the change not knowing how much it would affect my entire life.

I started the Art University on the late, with the idea I would build my network and get successful soon as well. Making movies, working in that industry and there as well getting rewarded with all the panoply of the leader.

Naivety again ?

Or just trying to find a mirror ? But as such doesn’t exist, you go on as long as you can continue to tailor your costume, and sometimes, maybe too late,  you find that mirror, on a hard time, tough life experience, and you look at yourself and realize you like the concept of what your role became, sometimes as ridiculous as those old generals that don’t have anymore space on their chest for new medals.

Actually I think I want to remain a bit naive. I want to believe the unexpected cannot be bad. I want to believe life is not to get trapped in a box and that this is the only way for blossoming. I naively believe as well that blossoming doesn’t always have to do with happiness or with a pre-baked model.

The pursuit of the unexpected can’t be done if you aren’t naive.

Being naive is being able to believe. And being able to believe is getting vulnerable.

And getting vulnerable, is feeling the different moments of our lives…which to me is one of the biggest strength you can have…

So now, the only thing I dream of, is to go outside,…and build a snowman…in a couple of days…once I’d feel better.

And no matter if the weather forecast is rain…

Temperatures went down, rain started and snow is already visible at the top of the mountains.

Perfect weather to go on with the editing of the “My Model” serie.

So here we go with another one

The more I work on the serie, the more I realize the few words that are spoken mean a lot more than we might believe  and it is a real training for our patience and empathy.

More than a year ago, I started a project, which is part of what I call the light ones, where not a lot of money is needed but efforts and good will compensate what is missing.

This kind of little project is totally at the opposite of the long documentaries I try to make every couple of year. Indeed I believe that for us, movie directors, it is needed to practice our art in between the larger sized projects. Like a musician, we need to practice to be able to perform freely when the showtime has come.

I was recently talking about it with a colleague and friend : we agreed on the fact that not only you need to but definitely have to. As well the hardest isn’t in running those little projects, but lies in the absence of such. Like kids not going to school for a while, the closer the comeback the strongest the stress…and usually the circle is hard to break.

We are taught to do meaningful pieces all the time. We are supposed to build our career on a perfect model…that was established by people picking out of big men’s careers their success and rarely their mistakes. To always have a great well thought purpose and meaning in all our work is a major threat, if you don’t adapt it to your criterias . It is a common legacy for most of visual artists to define their own scale of importance. And no matter if it doesn’t match what previous generation expects of you, if you don’t want to get crazy, you have to do it. (by the way, when we’ll be in their shoes, let’s remember this !)

In my case, my main interest tends towards everyday’s reality. Like I said in an older post, I believe that the world has much more to offer and to teach me than I have (so far). It doesn’t mean I don’t find my spot there in the big world or that I am not sharing anything or taking position ; rather the opposite I have this certitude we all have a role to play and that one person missing changes the entire balance and meaning of the world.

Because of this, I know the importance of going and asking people for their story. We could even say testimony. My profession means  giving this space to others, to their stories, their situations and to find the most respectful way of presenting it. Of course I have my point of view and my beliefs and you can feel them in what I do. But the most important is this precious balance between everyone’s view and how to present it. Again we are all needed to make the full picture attractive and coherent.

All this to say I have been filming  some amateur and semi-professional models (photography or other) those last 14 months. My initial thought was to understand the meaning of dealing with your own image in our overexposed society. Moving along with the project I realized that the question was only a small part of the project.

So here below the link to the first interview. I tried to make it in a kind of performative way, by choosing with the model one of their favorite actions and a location that made sense to them. Then I let it roll for a while, only asking them to keep the pose. Just like my first passion of painting, giving you the time to travel within the frame at your own rhythm.

Next ones will come soon

A safe landing 2 days ago. The feeling of an uncommon jet lag. We arrived home after our holidays. We came back home after work as well. 3600 km in 10 days. Our plane was a car. Our trip back in two times. Our vacations in four movements and 8 bits.

Now time to start the week. In fact not – we are Thursday. Weekend is close and no time to breathe. The air feels different. Probably the mountains, the altitude. It was flat over there. Never ending horizon. A vaste space where thoughts get wiped away by the wind. Here the mountains are hermetic. Here the heights are a barrier. We should feel safe. We do feel home.

Working time. Restless. Something changed. The landscape changed. Snow in the Alpes and rain here down. I feel like it is time to rest. But the rhythm is an new one. Actually like an old friend we knew that came back to our place. 3 steps for the movement. Then immobile. Time to think. No need to hurry before the next step.

The rain goes on outside and I know the digestion time started. A lot happened between the road trip, the memorial visit and the Festival. So many different things. So much in common. We are moving and entering a new phase of our lives and it is right. It sounds right.

All experiences are worth. Every new person you know completes you. Sometimes it is hard to see it, sometimes it is easy. Just natural. Just the way it should be.

I remember something from a deep past that goes beyond my own existence. It is rare.

I shared time in every possible way. It is rare.

I had the greatest professional time ever with amazing people. Every jury member. Every staff member. Thank you guys

Bounds are created.

Lace is woven.

Life can grow further.

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