Image: Raymond Cauchetier Text: Jon Handelman
Patti Smith, in her poignant if not over-exposed National Book Award winning memoire, Just Kids, describes artistic life in New York in the 60s and 70s among artists, writers, painters, photographers, musicians and everything in between. What she paints is an idyllic landscape of creators supporting one another with their endeavors, an incubator of sorts of young artists, stewing in their creative juices and newly emerging talents. I wondered if such a place currently exists in Paris for young filmmakers. A place where the next generation of filmmakers not only hang out, but go to seek out each other’s creative wisdom, if not financial and emotional support, for the dizzying endeavor of making one’s own film. Basically, I was looking for the filmmaker’s version of the Chelsea Hotel of Paris.
Maxence Paris, whose witty and spirited short film Guilt Trip, currently making the short film festival rounds, notes that these days filmmakers make their own projects and create their own paths to film success. That’s not to say that support is not there when needed. Paris said that friends from film school and others filmmakers met along the way form a necessary support group.
Filmmaker Raphael Holt (whose starkly poignant film Jeudi 19 is also circulating the festival scene) notes that the mixing of artistic communities (visual artists, musicians, what have you) in Paris is what truly inspires his work.
Paris is not devoid of creative communities. A multitude of film groups, festivals and discussion events exist. It is heartening to know that the creative life force that is the foundation for young filmmakers’ successes has not been obliterated merely because the utopian artists community of Smith’s New York may not exist in Paris (and let’s be honest, probably didn’t exist for the majority of Smith’s contemporaries).
Les Rencontres Kinoma, is a group that brings together young cinephiles on a monthly basis, both allowing young filmmakers to show their short films in competition and also staging talks with industry veterans, who bring along that sage advice that can only be obtained through age and experience. The ambience at Les Rencontres Kinoma is warm and welcoming, where discussion thrives amidst a multitude of ‘cocktail’ breaks (full coverage of Les Rencontres Kinoma can be read here.)
Another truly unique place for film lovers and makers alike is La Peniche Cinéma. Housed in one of the barges moored at Canal de l’Ourcq in Parc de la Villette, La Peniche Cinéma is a welcoming environment that not only projects a wide variety of films but offers distinctive programs for novice and young filmmakers to explore their craft.
Finally, although the traditional film festival route is not necessarily a beacon of fostering creativity, film festivals such as Ici & Demain: Festival Artistique Etudiante serve as an effective way for young filmmakers to get their work shown throughout the city. After attending a projection for this student film fest it was clear that the electric energy in the room reflected the mish mash of eclectic films presented, demonstrating the versatility (and lets be honest…levels of talent) that currently encompasses student-created film. While it is unclear whether these endeavors create a sense of community for young filmmakers, it is at least clear that a system of support does exist for those willing to seek it out.