One is named after an illustrious engineer from Dijon, the other is an old theater. Perhaps it was written that the (Henry) Darcy and Olympia cinemas (founded in 1919) would one day host stories involving body and mind. Stories that combine physical projection and pugnacious intelligence to emerge. Human stories, sometimes complex, sometimes simply brilliant. Total adventures, from the original spark to the final point - when there is one.
Sometimes, then, these stories are told through film. Cléo Poussier-Cottel has seen more than 4,000 in the nearly 30 years she's been working on the festival. Louis Meunier, on the other hand, has seen three of his own win awards in Dijon, (7,000 m above the war, 2012; Kabul Cinema, 2015; The Afghan Riders - in the footsteps of Joseph Kessel in Afghanistan, 2017). And then he was a member of the jury too. So we had to ask them: but what are the ingredients of a good film? And the recipe for a good festival?
"When I watch a film, I want to be taken on board, for the story to take me and keep its promises, starts Cléo Poussier-Cottel. For the selection, I try to put myself in the place of the audience. The quality of the images is important, but the first criterion remains: did I not see the time pass, or did I get bored? "A vision supported by Louis Meunier, who remembers the Golden Fleece awarded in 2013, when he was a member of the jury: "Crossing the ice, is a great story of friendship between two Australians who go to the South Pole. The quality was not incredible, but it shows that the camera is only a technical means and that what counts is the emotion. "
An emotion, necessarily subjective, which makes the spirit of festivals. Louis: "the contact with the spectators, the fact of being able to feel the reactions is very important. Sometimes your intentions go out the window, sometimes the audience notices things you hadn't seen. And then the moods, the atmospheres are different from one audience to another. This outside view is very enriching". And to quote the children, particularly present in Dijon through the programming reserved for schoolchildren: "they ask unexpected questions, smiles Louis, but often relevant!""
Opening minds, this is another selection criterion for Cleo: "we are looking for a varied program, with surprises, things that are more like a crush. Treeverse (2011), I asked the moon to the rock (2013), Urban Escape (2014)... There are many films of this kind! Most recently, the Swiss film Tandems (2019). I loved its writing, its coherence between the filmed subject and the way of filming that leaves a large part to the voice and sounds like music. This set that puts the viewer in the place of a visually impaired delivers a ballet and a deeply human poetry. "That year the film had received the Special Jury Prize. Another film caught the attention of the jury as much as the audience: L'extraordinaire tournée du facteur Maignan (Jean-Marc Boivin Award and Peter Bird Trophy 2009). "Because it's a human adventure, offers Cleo, in which people can recognize themselves."
If a festival selection, and a fortiori an award, represents for Louis Meunier "a cherry on the cake for the whole film team, because we get caught up in the game", therein lies not however the primary interest of the Adventure Screens. There is the meeting with the public; there is also the exchange with one's peers: "meeting someone who has walked on the ice floe or rowed across the ocean shows you that you are not alone. It's inspiring to be in a boiling cauldron, exhilarating to see these people going beyond the horizon. You leave with lots of ideas and desire."
On Cleo's side, we summon the craft to evoke "a beautiful material to work with. Going in search of beautiful stories, rubbing shoulders with passionate people is a great opportunity. Each person has their own universe, and often they're into it. You need this passion to make films. It's so complicated!" A commitment that also applies to setting up a festival, a passion nourished, at Cleo, by readings:"when you meet people like Sir Edmund Hillary, Thor Heyerdahl, Claudie Haigneré, Yuichiro Miura... It's a great privilege!" Here's his cherry: "to be there and spend three days immersed. You have to enjoy it, because it goes by so fast! It's very strong, but also very ephemeral".
Adventure and the zeitgeist
Ephemeral adventure... and changing? From her privileged vantage point, Cleo first notes that "the desire to go and see the other side of the hill is still there, it remains". But she also notes that society is making the adventure evolve: "In the 1980s, we were maybe more into the spectacular. Today, there is a real attention to the environment. We know that the poles are in danger, so there are a lot of projects on the ice. On the other hand, the geopolitical situation makes it complicated to go to the deserts now. Areas are opening up, others are closing ". It remains for the programming to reflect the diversity of the issues of the time. To highlight the Solar Impulse of Bertrand Piccard and the Low-tech Lab of Corentin de Chatelperron, for example. Two guests present at the 2021 Adventure Screens.
As for Louis Meunier, if he lives today in Jordan, his first land of adoption remains Afghanistan. Despite uncertain times, he is preparing to return there for a new film. Then memories of his Afghan cavalcades will perhaps jostle in his mind. And with them the memory of the first prize received for his book, The Afghan Riders (Kero edition): the Golden Fleece of the adventure book awarded by Jean-Louis Gouraud. "A character with whom I still communicate regularly" Louis rejoices. So then, not everything is ephemeral at the Adventure Screens.
Present alongside the festival teams for 13 years, Christine Martin, deputy mayor of Dijon, delegated to culture, entertainment and festivals, was keen to address a few words to a festival that holds an important place in the Burgundian capital:
"I met the festival teams in 2008 and today I am particularly happy to celebrate the 30 years of this festival that has seen the audience of enthusiasts who participate in it grow constantly.
Les Écrans de l'Aventure is a moment of warm sharing, stories that mark you, an effervescence. It is the dream of a child that comes to cross the reality of those who have dared. It is also this question that torments me each time "and if I too...?
Each one finds its account there, with the meeting of walkers, we imagine ourselves leaving, with the meeting of a navigator we want to be on the sea. We dream that our motionless travels become reality, we are transported by the beauty and poetry of the world, we discover and love humanity in its diversity. We let ourselves be carried and carried away.
A big thank you to all of you for this invitation to travel and discover! And long live the Adventure Screens in Dijon for many more years. "
Interview by Eric Carpentier