Patrick Grandperret, Pierre Chevalier and Jérôme Minet reunited

By Agnès Godard, AFC

par Agnès Godard La Lettre AFC n°296

[English] [français]

Patrick, Pierre and Jérôme reunited. Patrick and Pierre left together last weekend, Jérôme has already been gone for ten years. Patrick Grandperret, Pierre Chevalier and Jérôme Minet, the three producers of Beau travail, by Claire Denis, are no longer with us.

Everyone has his reasons.
Because everyone thought that the logistics of the film were impossible, Patrick wanted to produce it at all costs.
Because it was rather difficult to imagine what the film would be, Pierre only had one desire, to satisfy his curiosity of seeing it.
Because Jérôme when he arrived ceaselessly strove for one goal : to find a way of making it possible.
Lastly, following alongside Claire in the footsteps of Bruno Forestier, the deserter of the Petit Soldat* had something to do with it.

They all came to Djibouti.
They watched. Wordlessly. With a joyful gleam in their eyes. When they weren’t laughing like the Djiboutian women who would watch us, wondering what we were up to. Imagine Legionnaires like a ballet corps dancing to Billy Bud by Benjamin Britten, coming raspingly out of a makeshift ghetto blaster.
Imagine the strategic attack, machine gun in hand, of an unfinished, abandoned, inoffensive building…

… A scene to be filmed underwater. We’d prepared a DV camera—prepared is a big word—we put it in a plastic bag, but I didn’t know how to stay underwater with air tanks. Patrick was delighted : he’d do it himself. I cursed myself a for a few minutes the morning when he dived in to the water. He was pale from a night spent chewing khat, those little green leaves from Djibouti. All of his shots are in the film.

They believed in it, we believed in it. Without even seeing a single image during the entire shoot.
Several of us still get invited to come introduce the film at the other end of the world, as Denis Lavant noted on Monday at the Cinéma des Cinéastes.

Claire mentioned this anecdote there.
Patrick was alone on a location scouting mission on the beach of Malgache. We were going to shoot there, because it’s one of the few beaches where the sea is not only hospitable but also irresistibly clear.
Patrick couldn’t resist. He found himself at the police station, naked and looted !

This little episode might be the best way to describe his life, to describe their meeting which solidified around a well-defined goal : to produce.

“A man must be better than common to do a good job of malingering, the same as a good job at anything else.” (William Faulkner, Light in August).

* Michel Subor

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe)

The thumbnail image above is a portrait of Pierre Chevalier for France Culture - Photo Pierre-Emmanuel Rastoin