Watch the teaser : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzDSRCGOwRI
This summer, I shot a new film.
It’s about a Bal. A big Bal, in the countryside, in France.
In the summer, in Auvergne, come rain or shine - or mud or wind -, we dance and dance some more, for 7 days and 8 nights, backed up by musicians, on 7 floors, in the middle of a field.
All together, in a circle, in pairs, in chains, over 2,000 people dance and live together for a whole week. All kinds of languages and generations blend together, from the newborn to the elderly.
And I dance too.
But this summer, I spent most of my time filming.
The idea of this film originated last summer, during the Grand Bal.
It was past 2 a.m. Bernard, the creator of the Bal, and I got chatting.
And as it often happens, we stopped talking, struck by the beauty of what was unfolding before our very eyes: all those dancers twirling and whirling around in the night, full of joy and grace, the virtuosity and generosity of the musicians, the osmosis between all those people, the palpable energy emanating from this community of men and women.
Today, neither Bernard, nor myself remember which one of us came up with the idea first.
I’ve got the feeling that we came up with it at the same time that night. Bernard knew that I made movies; I knew his story and the story of the Grand Bal. Let’s call this synchronicity.
The same desire to share what was going on before our eyes.
Because it is precious, and even necessary these days.
Every year, hundreds – even thousands – of people come from all over Europe to get together in the middle of the countryside in central France to share their love for traditional/folk dance. This year, there were over 3,000 people! Over 500 musicians take turns to play live tunes and melodies from every region and every country.
Workshops are organized during the day, in which participants, speakers, trainers show their steps, their rhythms and share their culture…and organize balls every evening, and jams every night to dance, dance and dance some more!!!
On the premises, the organization is so impressive that it becomes invisible: there’s a campsite, a refreshment stall and over 1,000 meals are served there every day. The Grand Bal is set up without any grants and there is therefore no advertising for it… Everything comes through word of mouth!
I went there for the first time fifteen years ago.
These last years, I haven’t been able to consider starting the summer without taking the Grand Bal week off.
It is essential for me.
The idea of this film is to let others see what happens between us during that week. We turn, spin, stamp on each other’s feet, go into a trance, sweat, laugh, cry, sing, get excited or irritated, count steps, play, feel lonely, weep, live.
We want to share and show this whirlwind to those who’ve never seen it. To film the looks in our eyes, the conversations, the connections, the community and all its singularities, the first hesitant movements, the agility and easiness of the more experienced ones, how people let go, the liberties they take, the gentle madness, the great humanity which comes to light, the joy that lights up the faces, the time spent waiting on chairs, the beginning of love stories, tiredness taking over and bonds that bring us closer to each other and help us carry on.
To show how different things can be when we finally dare to touch each other, when we look at each other, when we truly live together.
And to show how life pulses.
To show as well another way to be together, which goes against what our society offers us, by living together, in a kind, caring, curious and cheerful way.
This film on the Grand Bal is about joy.
The joy of being alive, of dancing, of sharing dance and music, but moreover of being together!
We also want to show that this is basically what we all long for, and that we desperately need these places, need others and need love.
We really do.
And that life can be beautiful.
The shooting we did this summer was wonderful.
It was like any filmmaker’s dream. Chabrol used to say that what he enjoyed the most was to go on a shoot, that it was like going on holiday with friends to make a film with them. That’s what I experienced. With the joy of dancing as a bonus!
And I believe that all my work mates felt the same way.
Actually, I think that it is quite obvious when you see our faces! Here’s the photo of the crew during the second week.
At the top left, with his polka-dot shirt, François Waledisch, our sound engineer. To his right, Karine Aulnette, the director of photography. I’m in the green dress, one hand on Jean-Marie Gigon’s shoulder (he’s my producer). To his right, Rémi Villon, our assistant editor who synchronized all the rushes, images and sounds as we were filming… Below, our 2nd film crew, Prisca Bourgoin, the assistant camera who adjusted the focus for me when I still had enough strength to hold the camera, and who often took over as camerawoman. Next to her, on his knees, it’s Nicolas Joly, our sound engineer, who worked directly with Prisca and me. To his right, Eve Tailliez, our good fairy who gave us her precious help.
Missing on the photo, Annabel Thomas, our stage manager, Laurent Coltelloni, our DP and the cameraman you can see in action on this picture.
And our five-star cook, Arnaud Pelletier, who delighted our taste buds and our hearts, and brought Brazil to the scene at the Grand Bal this year, with a forro ball.
We organized two shootings, because this ball takes place twice during the summer, in two different locations.
It was condensed and intense.
Both crews took turns and managed to film during the first ball in the evening, with two cameras.
We needed two crews to spare some time off for all of us to rest when the Grand Bal itself was carrying on. To help us keep on going. To be immersed in the atmosphere and carried by the rhythm. Like dancers. Dance, dance, eat, meet people…
The whole crew was incredible, I will keep a wonderful memory of this shooting where magic happened ever so often.
Again, many thanks to all of them, for their commitment (“Karine, you can go to bed now, you know? – No, I want to stay a little bit longer, I’ve got a good feeling about it now…”), their sense of humour (long live François’s jokes), and their professionalism (because on top of everything, they all did a great job).
This shooting was a real delight mostly thanks to all the dancers, musicians and organizers. I felt that many of them trusted me, especially when we went up to them with a camera and a sound boom, as they were either dancing or deep in conversation, and with a glance we understood that they accepted our presence. And that feeling is indescribable.
Just like the grace that sometimes saturated the screen of my control monitor, when the dancers offered their dance to the camera.
And how can I thank enough all the people – all our partners-in-crime! - who rushed up to us saying: “Quick, come over! An organizer doing a painting to explain what mazurka is!”, or “Quick, come over, there’s a jam with a musical saw on floor 4, it’s sounds wonderful”, or “you must come and shoot in the evening in front of floor 5, people brush their teeth there while dancing!”.
I know taking part in the Grand Bal in front of cameras wasn’t easy for many people. And I can understand that. What we experience and share when we dance, and in our lives during the Grand Bal, isn’t something we necessarily want to experience in front of a camera. But you often told me you wanted to overcome this awkwardness, driven by the desire and the strong need to show, thanks to this film, what you experience during the ball to your friends and family who don’t really understand it or know what it is, as words aren’t enough to describe it.
Thank you for your patience, your indulgence and your trust.
Without you, this film wouldn’t exist.
Baudoin, a comic strip artist, designed the film poster.
We made a film together a few years ago, which is a portrait about him.
He has designed almost all the posters for my films (except the last one, for reasons beyond our control). His style, his lines and his sensitivity are essential to me. He knows best how to put my ideas and feelings into drawings.
You can watch our film here on VOD : ici en vod
And here : Et là, with subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Jean-Marie, my producer, founded his production company, SaNoSi, in 2005. Its name is made up of the first syllables of his 3 sons’ names. He often says he became a producer by accident. That he mainly set up his company to be able to make his own films, since he hadn’t met the right producer with who he’d hit it off from the word go and who could have helped him go through with his projects. Then, thanks to a combination of circumstances, he decided to support a friend of his and to produce his film. From then on, other personal favourites came into his life, which he chose to support too. Today, he mainly produces creative documentaries, although he loves fiction. Since he chooses projects by feel and according to the people he meets, he says he doesn’t have any editorial policy, that his policy comes from people. He produced over 20 films last year, including a short we made together and thanks to which we got to meet.
For more information, go to this page : sur cette page.
He works with Eve, Joana and Emmanuel, who joined him in Eure-et-Loir, in the Centre region, in a small town in the country called Maintenon.
The Grand Bal is the first feature-length documentary we made together.
And a little bird told me it won’t be the last.
To me, Véro is first and foremost the graceful woman who organizes the Israeli dance workshops at the Grand Bal. That’s how I met her the first time. Then, I saw her photos of balls on Facebook. I absolutely loved them, so I asked her if I could put some of them on the cover of my page or even print some, then if I could use them to illustrate my work when I started writing about the film. I don’t think anyone else could have been our photographer on this set. It had to be her. Thank you Véro!