October 19, 2000. For the first time, the festival moved to the Palais des Congrès, after eight years at the Théâtre des Feuillants. An experience repeated in 2001, before moving across the street to the Auditorium for seven editions. A founding period for the festival as it exists today. Hubert de Chevigny was then president of La Guilde, which organizes the Écrans with the support of the city of Dijon. He explains the approach behind the changes of address: "When I arrived, the animations were spread out over different places in the city. But the festival is above all a meeting of people who, by definition, have eminently solitary actions in the field! So there was this will to prune so that everyone could gather in the same place. Because it is there, the salt of Dijon: in this proximity between public and adventurers."
Above: Hubert de Chevigny photographed in 2002 under the yurt displayed at the Auditorium (© Matthieu Alexandre) and at the Palais des Congrès in 2001 (© Philippe CARON) with, from right to left: John Anderson (Denmark), Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland), Mike Horn (Switzerland), Hubert de Chevigny (France), Borge Ousland(Norway), Jean-Louis Etienne (France) and Patrice Franceschi(France).
From Nicolas Hulot to Mike Horn
At the end of the day, there are moments that will always be remembered. Like this time when Mike Horn arrives late... and barefoot: "I wait for him outside at the end of the screening of his film, Hubert de Chevigny recounts. He arrives in his car, gets out barefoot, and we run up the escalators to the theater. Across the street, people were already coming down. When we saw Mike, there was a real rush to get back up!" The audience will drink in the words of the man who has just completed a mind-boggling circumnavigation of the globe on the Equator wire. And the film based on his feat, Mike Horn: Latitude 0° (directed by Didier Lafond), will receive the 2001 Jean-Marc Boivin Prize, rewarding the authenticity of a lived adventure.
Hubert de Chevigny, who joined the board of directors of La Guilde after his 1987 North Pole expedition with Nicolas Hulot, admits it: it's sometimes hard for him to sit in a movie theater for long hours, when so many free spirits are rustling around. "It's a tough rigor, but necessary. Because the Screens are a true adventure film festival. What is interesting is this great attention paid to the quality of the films during the selection. This allows us to have a nice diversity between big productions and small films made with nothing. As long as the film is good, it can be selected." And Hubert de Chevigny praises his collaboration with Patrick Edel, founder of La Guilde, and Cléo Poussier-Cottel, the festival's indispensable deputy director since 1997: "there is a huge amount of work done upstream in consultation, on programming, invitations. Everyone brings their skills so that the big annual meeting runs as smoothly as possible."
This appointment, the producer Ariane Le Couteur discovered it in 2003 thanks to a big name in adventure: Patrice Franceschi. "I got into the adventure business with the production of the collection La Boudeuse autour du monde - à la redécouverte des peuples de l'eau. A four-year production around the world, a perilous but great adventure for a small production company like L'Envol." From her first year in Dijon, Ariane Le Couteur was won over: "you meet people who do great things and it motivates you to move forward. Whether you're a producer, an adventurer or an audience member, when you go, you're sure to leave with a buzz!"
And then there are the encounters, always the key word of the Adventure Screens. In 2004, the producer was a member of the jury ; 15 years later, she has not forgotten the laughs with the directors Thierry Robert (Jean-Marc Boivin prize and the city of Dijon's youth prize 2000 for La Grande Traversée, Toison d'or and youth prize 2010 for On a marché sous le pôle,) and Mike Magidson (Toison d'or 2003 for La longue trace, Toison d'or and audience prize 2016 for L'appel de la banquise). Above all, it was in Dijon that she met France Pinczon du Sel and Eric Brossier, the couple from Vagabond. She gets two award-winning films in Dijon, and especially lasting bonds of friendship: "on discussed, we saw each other again, and we said we could work together. That gave first Sous les étoiles du pôle, directed by Hugues de Rosière, a very sensitive film that met with a nice success (special jury prize 2008, ed. note). And then Sur le grand océan blanc, written with Véronique Ovaldé and directed by Hugues (Alain Bombard prize 2013, ed.)."
If the producer has a navigator's soul and a cinematographic eye, she has one last piece of evidence, which comes from the book prize awarded each year. It was in 2008, during the last edition of the Screens at the Auditorium: Caroline Riegel received the Golden Fleece of Adventure Book for Méandres d'Asie - Du Baïkal au Bengale II, "two months on foot, horseback, donkey, camel, bicycle, from Baikal to the harsh Gobi desert ; from the arid Kunlun range to the winter rigors of isolated Zanskar, from the sacred springs of the Hindu Ganges to the flooded delta of Bengal" (Phébus editions): "it's interesting to have books and films, it creates transversal encounters, notes Ariane Le Couteur. Here, Caroline had particularly interested me. She contacted me again some time later, and then we made the Sowers of Joy." An acclaimed film... but which will have, to the surprise of its producer, not received any awards in Dijon.
Authenticity and daydreaming
Proof that nothing is written and that the jury's choices proceed from an elusive alchemy: "When we are on the jury, we put ourselves in the place of the public," clarifies the woman who was a juror in 2004, 2011 and 2020. We put forward the emotion felt, the authenticity. Sometimes, we have important films, calibrated for prime time, but which do not necessarily touch. It's tricky, because they are good films! But a film created with more freedom, spontaneity, that works, you can't ignore it. It's really this: even if I'm in the business, even if I have a professional look, what emotion I feel as a viewer..."
Emotions, this spectator has experienced some great ones. It was in 1996, when Sir Peter Blake was president of the jury. Hubert de Chevigny rewinds: "At the end of the festival, you have the big photo on stage with everyone, the audience comes down, it's the final mess. A little guy comes up, nudges me: "can you introduce me to Peter Blake please? I sail, I admire him a lot!" I make the introductions and then leave them to two. The next year, the same little guy comes back, does it again and tells me: "I would like to thank you: Peter Blake invited me to sail on his boat!" The kid, there, he realized a dream thanks to Dijon."
Interview by Eric Carpentier