LOGLINE

Ever, Rêve, Hélène Cixous films the roads to creation of a feminist legend, a 1968 activist, a famous playwright and poet who shares all the “wars of liberation” of our time.

SYNOPSIS
 
 
 
 

A French and American scholar and filmmaker, Olivier Morel has directed several feature-length nonfiction films (documentaries) and is the author of several books, including a graphic novel with the artist Maël. He teaches in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame (USA). In Paris, France, he attended Jacques Derrida’s seminars. He also studied with Hélène Cixous. His cinematic work has received several prizes in international film festivals. His filmography includes On the Bridge (L'Âme en sang, Amerikas Verletzte Seelen), 97 minutes, Zadig Productions, ARTE Grand Format, 2011; Germany as Told by Christoph Hein, Vladimir Kaminer, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Bernhard Schlink, 55 minutes, Seconde Vague Productions, ARTE, 2013; Ever, Rêve, Hélène Cixous, 118 minutes, Zadig Productions, 2018; Profils 14-18, Webdocumentary, TV5-Monde, 2019.

Olivier Morel, Director

Following her master’s degree in history in 1997, Céline Nusse devoted 10 years to film production at Roche Productions, where she had the opportunity to work with many renowned documentary filmmakers such as Nino Kirtadze, Pavel Lounguine, William Karel and Patrick Jeudy. In 2007 she joined Zadig Productions, first as a production manager and then as a producer. She was appointed CEO in 2014. Céline works closely with Paul Rozenberg. Together, they have produced thirty documentaries that privilege an author’s vision. She has produced films by Ruth Zylberman, Nino Kirtadzé, Stan Neuman, Julie Gavras, and Charles Enderlin among others.

Céline Nusse, Producer

After completing degrees in history and journalism with a specialization in creative documentary filmmaking, Florence Guinaudeau started her career as an assistant producer in 2011. As an executive producer, she has worked with Céline Nusse and Paul Rozenberg. She has facilitated and promoted the artistic research of internationally acclaimed female filmmakers like Nino Kirtadzé, Julie Gavras and Ruth Zylberman, as well as male filmmakers like William Karel, Stan Neuman, Jérôme le Maire, Yves Jeulland, Didier Cros and Frédéric Compain.

Florence Guinaudeau, Executive Producer

A graduate of the Fémis film school, Gertrude Baillot made her debut as a cinematographer for Claire Doyon’s feature Les lionceaux (a Cannes Film Festival selection). She then co-directed the film Les enfants du fond du lac for Arte television, before directing Mon voyage avec Jérémy, and more recently, Souriez, vous êtes mariés ! As a cinematographer, she appears on the credits of many films and documentaries with directors like Esther Hoffenberg, Florence Mauro, Yacine Baday, Valérie Mrejen, Wissam Charaf... She is the founder of LUCO, a professional organization of cinematographers. http://www.gertrudebaillot.com

Gertrude Baillot, Director of Photography

After graduating from the Louis Lumière film school Emmanuelle Collinot became an assistant director of photography to Christophe Pollock and worked with Jacques Doillon (Le Jeune Werther, Un homme à la mer, Trop peu d’amour), Anne Fontaine (Les histoires d’amour finissent mal en général), Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet (Lothringen), as well as Jean-Luc Godard (Eloge de l’amour). Since 2000, Emmanuelle has worked a director of photography for filmmakers like Marie de Laubier (Véloma), Pascale Breton (La chambre des Parents), and Sophie Filière (Un chat, un chat, Arrête ou je continue, La Belle et la Belle) among others. She is also known for her cinematography on more than 50 documentary films, including one on Simone Veil (dir. Caroline Huppert), Ariane Mnouchkine (dir. Catherine Vilpoux), Julia Kristeva (dir. Téri Wen Damish), Maurice Nadeau (dir. Ruth Zylberman).

Emmanuelle Collinot, Director of Photography

Jean-Gabriel made his directorial debut with an award-winning film on homelessness and drug addiction in Paris. He has benefited from his skills as an accomplished athlete and climber to create especially memorable documentary films, such as 99 Days on the Ice, a feature-length film he directed while walking with his camera across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. Throughout his career, Jean-Gabriel has developed a versatile approach to filmmaking that allows him to work under extreme conditions in war zones, like Iraq and Afghanistan, underwater in Greenland, on active volcanoes, or in remote areas in West Papua. He has also explored new avenues in filmmaking, illustrated most visibly in his collaboration with war photographer Karim Ben Khelifa on the award-winning 3D experimental documentary The Enemy. His work as a director and cinematographer has won over 40 awards internationally and was featured on prestigious channels including National Geographic, Discovery Chanel, France television, BBC, DR1, Arte…

Jean-Gabriel Leynaud, Director of Photography

A prolific composer, a multifaceted musician, an inventor of musical instruments and a master luthier, Jean-Jacques Lemêtre is an internationally acclaimed genius whose musical talent was discovered at a young age. Lemêtre is especially known for a creative approach to music that blends musical traditions from different periods and diverse locations and cultures. His research has led him to establish one of the world’s largest collections of musical instruments, including objects from places where musicians have been persecuted, thereby saving musical knowledge and instruments from destruction. Lemêtre has also become an emblematic figure of the Théâtre du Soleil, where he has signed every musical creation with Ariane Mnouchkine’s company for over 40 years. Cixous and Lemêtre have co-created a number of works in a variety of settings. They collaborated on the radio piece Ceci est un exercice de rêve (France Culture, French public radio, 2005) and performed musical readings together on many occasions. Ever, Rêve, Hélène Cixous features this poetic complicity.

Jean-Jacques Lemêtre,

Original Music

Born in Poland in 1955, Paul Rozenberg has more than 25 years of experience as a producer of feature films as well as documentary films. Known in the industry for his independence and the artistic uniqueness of his productions, Paul is broadly recognized for his ability to encourage aspiring and experienced filmmakers. With Ima Productions in the 90s and Zadig Productions since 2001, Rozenberg has produced internationally acclaimed films by Chantal Ackerman, Olivier Assayas, Claire Denis, Cédric Kahn, Abbas Kiarostami, André Téchiné, Cyril Mennegun and many others. In 2008, he was awarded the Prize for “Best Producer of the Year.” That same year, his film Durakovo, The Village of the Fools (dir. Nino Kirtadzé) won the World Cinema Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Paul Rozenberg, Producer

Through more than twenty years of experience as an editor and color grader, Matthieu Augustin has edited more than forty major films that have been selected in the most prestigious film festivals around the world (Cannes Film Festival, IDFA…). Most of his films have been released in movie theatres and featured on television channels worldwide. Beyond the traditional idea of serving a director’s vision, Augustin is known in the profession for his capacity to allow directors to find the filmic expression that lies at the core of their visceral desire to create.

Matthieu Augustin, Editor

A French-German cinematographer who lives in Paris, Sarah Blum was born in Berlin in 1980. She is known for the photography of Ayat Najafi’s No Land’s Song, released in French and German movie theaters in 2016, as well as Nurith Aviv’s Translate, released in theatres in 2011, and Jérôme de Missolz’s Les Jeunes Gens Modernes, released in 2011 (a Cannes Film Festival selection). Sarah Blum’s work with renowned filmmakers like Alice Diop, Justine Pluvinage, Shirin Abu Shaqra and Joao Viana was featured in many film festivals. She was also Olivier Morel’s director of photography on German as Told by Writers… (Arte, 2014).

Sarah Blum, Director of Photography

Born in 1979, Cédric made his directorial debut in 2005 with the award-winning Musafir (Jean Rouch Film Festival), a musical film featuring the traditional music of the Rajasthan region (India). Most of his films explore the link between music and the environment, and envision music’s magical and revolutionary power in terms of visual pleasure, political projections and metaphysical endeavors. This is illustrated in his award-winning We Don't Care About Music Anyway... that depicts the innovative and “radical” music of the underground scene in Tokyo. Such creativity is also featured in Kings of the Wind and Electric Queens, a film that was the recipient of an award at the Hot Docs in 2014.

Cédric Dupire, Director of Photography

Growing up in Pakistan played a major role in shaping Sana’s inspiration. Her creativity stems from living in a city that taught her to find beauty in potholes while admiring Lahore’s Mughal frescos and its colonial-style architecture. Her artistic sense also arose from her contemplation of Karachi’s Gothic-style Cathedral and the Arabesque patterns covering its domes... This visual landscape of hers has notably led Sana to pursue her masters in fine arts in visual communication design at the University of Notre Dame (USA) where she also teaches in this area of studies and practice. Before enrolling in this graduate school program Sana was a creative manager at an advertising agency where she combined her skills in design and her expertise in the marketing industry.

Sana Khan, Poster & Web Design

 

Photos © Olivier Morel

Director’s dream

Why do I always feel that the biographical sketches I read about Cixous fail to express who she is? … Oh, by the way, in parentheses, how do you pronounce her name? People ask me: “Does she say it ‘Cixou’ with no ‘s’ or ‘Cixoussss?’” Who cares? Do I? I don’t know… When I was filming Hélène in Berlin, she was wearing a pin: “Cixous and the Banshees.” She laughed. That’s right. Some say “Siouxsie.” Siouxsie like Siouxie Sioux (the pop singer). Once, I heard someone say: “Cixsioux.” Pronounced like that “Seeex-See-Youxxx.”

 

They sing her name. Different names, different accents, different bios. This is the song of “Cixous travels.” 

 

Again. Should I go over the usual arguments? That “bios never quite do justice,” or that “bios always lie in one way or another” (should you trust the bios on this website?), that, as Cixous recalls, biographies always tell one story instead of another story… I fear the language of “bios.” But I don’t fear the music of many “Cixous” whenever her name is pronounced. She recognizes her many names. She laughs.

 

I remember. There was a time in the editing room when I thought that the film’s title would be “Ever, That’s Her Name: Hélène Cixous.” Ever is literature.

 

 “Cixous” is known around the world for her legendary 1975 feminist literary manifesto The Laugh of the Medusa. She is also famous for her theatre work. She has been the “house playwright” of Ariane Mnouchkine’s Théâtre du Soleil since the seventies and their most recent play was staged at the Armory theatre in New York City in late 2017. A scholar, Cixous founded the University of Paris-8 after May 1968 alongside Deleuze and Foucault. One year earlier, she made a spectacular entrance into the literary canon with her very first book publication, Prénom de Dieu (“God’s First Name”) that won the prestigious Médicis Prize. Etc. Etc.

 

Would this make a good film? I never wanted to make a film of this genre, a film that would constitute a filmed ID, “a film about someone…”

 

Have I ever read what I often think about? That her close friendship with Derrida could be compared to that of Montaigne and La Boëtie. Or could it be Tristan and Iseult? Names... always names. How should I bring out Cixous the Algerian, Cixous the German, how about naming her (relation to?) Jewishness in these contexts, and beyond? Oran, Osnabrück, Golders Green in London, Jerusalem? Paris? Bordeaux? Montaigne? Names. What to do with her wars of liberation?

 

So why do I always have this strange feeling that the biographical sketches I read about Hélène Cixous fail to express who she is? Because it’s not about the bio. The film might not be “about” Cixous. It’s about singing her names. It deals with what happens when Hélène meditates with the artist Adel Abdessemed: happy artists are ones who have known horror.

 

Hélène is a happy artist. So am I.

 

She laughs. In the dark, I see her smile. The screening has already started.