Cinema is a combat sport
Now that the films, blocked for too long at theaters’ doors, have finally found their way back to spectators, it is worth recounting the path strewn with pitfalls, very often grueling and demoralizing, that their creation represents. A Belgian filmmaker, Frédéric Sojcher (ten short films and four films to his credit), sells the wick in two autobiographical books, bitter and comical, descriptive and ironic, on the ordeal of embarking on the adventure when everything bitterly against you. It would be wrong to believe that his example is singular and concerns only Belgium. Bertrand Tavernier, who had signed the preface to one of these books, confirmed that the cinema is indeed a combat sport, for which it is necessary above all to be well surrounded so as not to sink.
In I want to make cinema, Frédéric Sojcher, on the strength of a few scathing experiences, writes a survival manual for apprentice directors. In the tone of self-mockery, he discovers an opaque production system, with arbitrary methods, fuzzy criteria, paints the portrait of some good fairies and cerberus doomed to obstruct. We enter with him at Insas, the great Belgian film school, we meet some renowned professors, some of whom take him under his wing. Then we follow him in his exhausting tribulations to obtain financing, convince producers and get started. “You need an oversized ego to be a filmmaker”, he confesses.
After a few chaotic short films, when the adventure of the first film comes, Frédéric Sojcher must climb Himalayas in bad faith, evasions, empty words, endless commitments. ” In the cinema, he writes, more than in other fields, the gaze of others determines the chances of success or the risk of failure. “
For seven years, he is wandered from hopes to disqualification. When he arrives in Greece to shoot, everything is united against him. In hostile terrain, his hesitations are seen as weakness. Technicians, actors, producer saw him off and kick him out of his own film. A putsch fomented at the end of a series of humiliating skirmishes. A freezing descent into hell that will end in court. Justice will reinstate him in his rights to complete the filming of Look at me (3).
Let us be reassured. Frédéric Sojcher has shot other films, selected at the Cannes and Venice Festivals. And he teaches “Cinema practices” at the Sorbonne. But what better master than the one who has known everything …
(1) Genesis, “Les Poches belges” collection, 186 p., € 14
(2) Genesis, “Les Poches belges” collection, preface by Bertrand Tavernier, 246 p., € 14
(3) Unpublished in France, Look at me (2000) is on UniversCiné