Josephine, a young film student, decides to portray a woman, Jane Clarks, a strong African-American who died over thirty years ago. She lived for a century from 1883 to 1983. Jane’s life has been plotted in sets and models built in cardboard, to dreamily narrate her life in Chicago at Bronzeville. Jane Clarks was fighting against segregation for equality between black and white people. She was also living a life of music with jazz and blues. This documentary style film will embody Jane Clarks passion for life, love of music, and drive for equality.
Letter of intention:
Segregation, jazz and blues
Historical segregation in the United States fueled a great deal of cultural divide and passion within black music. The evolution of traditional black, soulful music yields harrowing stories of grief and repression. Unifying a community through music was a way to share stories and convey emotions. In researching segregation, it was evident that music and political headway went hand in hand. Jazz and blues were a powerful force in creating change and inspiring millions. Witnessing the 2012 presidential campaign and election of a black man for his second term was inspiration enough for me to showcase black music in Chicago and how one young women, Jane Carks, fought for equality. Chicago, and more precisely Bronzeville, is a historically poor, black neighborhood, and is the perfect set for this film. It is indeed a cradle of blues and black music, only second to New Orleans.
Between fiction and documentary
Jane Clarks, the main character, is an everyday hero who is an inspiration for her relatives. She is always ready to fight for her convictions and her rights. The Chicago setting during the segregation era is based on truth, but we are not able to call this film a documentary because Jane Clarks never existed. She was never real and this why it was impossible de make a true documentary about her life. Jane Clarks represents a part of American History. Just as in a documentary, the audience to follow the narrator into a series of interviews and dialogs in a sort of dream world. While the narrator is interviewing the individuals, the rhythm is broken by true archive footages. This film is representative of the reality I chose: a fake world, unrealistic, recreated in cardboards, with protagonists who never existed, but still a word linked to reality. The archive footages and the historical ideas and feelings that it displays.
The aesthetic of the dream world
Jane Clark’s set will be recreated in cardboards and instead of showing real streets we’ll make models of Chicago, using polyester to create fake snow… The aesthetic will be clearly unrealistic, as we don’t try to make the film look true. Doing so, the audience will be invited to get in a dreamy world. The film will be shot on a theater stage, which will increase the sensation of the recreation of the era.
Looking for documentary
As it comes to the “documentary” aspect of my film, I choose to switch between interview sequences and archive footages. The protagonists telling us about Jane Clarks will be shot very simply, in front of the camera, so the audience can feel as if they are talking to the filmmaker. The Archived footages will include a broadcast of French news about the increasing racial violence in the United States, Martin Luther King march on Washington, and Barack Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony. This will illustrate the historical base of the film.
Who am I?
Josephine Mereuze – Director, Screenwriter
I have been a film student at the University Paris 8 since my undergraduate, now I am a graduate in my last year of Directing. During my studies I had multiple experiences of filmmaking as director, screenwriter, first director’s assistant and script supervisor. I worked on several short films. Besides my studies, I co-created a film organization, Lizard’s Pride Pictures, and I am now its Vice President. I have a very curious nature, and have been on two International exchanges: at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and at the University of New Orleans. I believe it is because I am so curious that I had the idea of making Jane Clarks. This is a very important project for me and I have been working on it for over a year now.