• Flash Competition


Jean-Claude Rousseau

Thirty-five years after Keep in Touch, Jean-Claude Rousseau’s filmmaking returns to the city of Carl Andre and Hollis Frampton. It’s like a miniature remake of Rear Window, but a New York version – Rear Window as seen by a minimalist artist from New York. The window takes up almost the entire frame, the photographer is nowhere to be seen and the gaze, no longer voyeuristic, flutters over the surface of a red brick façade on the other side, studded by myriad identical windows. On the surface of the windows or in the depths of the bedrooms, life passes by, takes its leave and returns, always inaccessible. Combining the greatest simplicity – fixed, unchanging frames – with the highest degree of sensitive, emotional modulation, the author of De son Appartement (Grand Prix FID 2007) takes his art of variation to its zenith. The variations of light convert the hours of the day into seasons of the year, or of life. Objects appear and disappear on the windowsill, a sheet of cardboard flaps in the wind, a phrase from a quintet by Fauré returns like the refrain of an endless prayer. The triptych-window on its shiny black ledge finally emerges for what it is: a shrine. A shrine before which the man does not come to kneel but gestures, his hand trembling with fear and emotion, captured by the beating of absence and presence on either side of the window. Then he sits down, and it’s his image that, in the evening, is etched onto the altarpiece – a receding reflection, a ghostly self-portrait on the central pane. New York no longer exists. The man barely exists. Welcome is a ceremony of tribute and farewell to a bygone city and past. The paradoxical title expresses the riddle of this film… Who is welcoming us in this farewell? Where are we welcomed? This window is the threshold to what? Beware of vertigo!
(Cyril Neyrat)

A word from the director

When I arrived in the apartment I rented for a while in New York, I found a card, put out as a welcome gesture, with ‘Welcome’ written on it by hand.
This card became an object in the film, where it appears propped up on the windowsill. The window provided the perfect frame, with a view of the building opposite’s windows.
A frame which captures our gaze, just like the piece of clumsily attached cardboard behind the glass in the window which flapped with every breath of wind.
It is this aptness of the frame which provokes the shot, with the only kit I had at my disposal: a smartphone. I hadn’t planned to shoot while I was in New York, but the frame made it happen and the shot was made, without any intention of making a film.
Appearing and disappearing, the cardboard flapping against the window gave a rhythm to the shot and encouraged me to keep taking new shots at different times of the day. Through the variations in light, we see time passing, and through the movement of objects on the windowsill, we see that the place is lived in.
Among these objects is a teapot, for a cup of tea in the morning, an invite for a photography exhibition, a key left there after the door has been slammed or removed before the door is heard to open again.
The occupier is not always there, but his absence does not interrupt the beating of the cardboard against the window. A pulse without a witness, a beating heart that seems to be moved by the meeting, in the same rhythm, of a few notes of Fauré’s first quartet. The music will be heard again. It lifts the film as the wind outside lifts the cardboard that’s flapping against the window.
These few objects displayed in front of the window lend themselves to fiction. They can be seized upon to break the monotony and satisfy our need for a story. Everything can be imagined. Even to the point of believing that the man has left the flat to go to the exhibition and perhaps find the woman on the invitation card.
The appeal of fiction, as an embodiment of the subject, is boundless. But reality persists. It is in the variations of light until nightfall. It is in the relentless beating, on the other side of the window, of the cardboard that is subjected to our imagination. A beating heart, close to breaking. Yes, “Beating Heart”, another title for the film.

Jean-Claude Rousseau

  • Flash Competition

Technical sheet

France / 2022 / Colour / 18’

Original version : no dialogue
Photography : Jean-Claude Rousseau
Editing : Jean-Claude Rousseau.
Sound : Jean-Claude Rousseau

Production : Jean-Claude Rousseau (Rousseau Films).

Filmographie sélective :
Le tombeau de Kafka, 2021
Un monde flottant, 2020
In memoriam, 2019
Si loin, si proche, 2016
Arrière-Saison, 2016
Chansons d’amour, 2016
Terrasse Avec Vue, 2015
Fantastique, 2014
Sous un ciel changeant, 2013
Saudade, 2012
Dernier soupir, 2011
Senza Mostra, 2011
Nuit Blanche, 2011
Festival, 2010
Série noire, 2009
L’Appel de la Forêt, 2008
De Son Appartement, 2007
Deux fois le tour du monde, 2006
Faux départ, 2006
Trois fois rien, 2006
Une vue sur l’autre rive, 2005
Juste avant L’orage, 2003
La vallée close, 1995
Les antiquités de Rome, 1989
Keep in touch, 1987
Venise n’existe pas, 1984.