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Jean-François Stévenin – Simple Men

Jean-François Stévenin, the author of three cult feature films, certainly knows how to make an entrance: Laurent Achard opens this portrait devoted to him as part of the mythical series Cinéastes de Notre Temps with an expectant wait. Behind the camera, in the Manet mirror on the wall of the café where the actor-director is due to arrive, we can see all the fans who have come to listen to him today. When the hero eventually turns up, almost like Johnny Halliday, his entrance into the frame is also that of the actor he was, in his own films and those of Truffaut, Rivette, Godard, Mazuy and many others.
Achard does not focus on Stévenin at work; rather than asking questions about the films he’s made, he chooses to bring up an unfinished project with the widow of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Most of the conversation involves the friendship between Stévenin and this woman – a fresco of an unlikely but committed friendship that’s undoubtedly linked to the substance of his other films. But it’s also a way for Achard to avoid yet another discourse on the existing films, and, on the contrary, make this unknown film exist through discourse. Jean-François Stévenin – Simples Messieurs also becomes a document about a filmmaker who expresses and directs himself, bringing to life through words and gestures what could not be made a reality in images. (N.L.)

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Technical sheet

France / 2020 / Color / HD / 59’

Original version : French.
Script : Laurent Achard.
Photography : David Grinberg.
Sound : Philippe Grivel.
Editing : Thomas Glaser.
Casting : Jean-François Stévenin.
Production and distribution : La Traverse (Gaël Teicher).