At a time when the world of work is being bitten in the jugular, the first DocSessions focused on how to ‘Make A Living Out Of Reality’ in a cinema industry that’s permanently in crisis. The guests were: Andrea Guzmán, jury member of MajorDocs, programmer and founder of DOCMA, the Association of Documentary Cinema; Jacques Bidou, renowned producer who has collaborated with filmmakers such as Patricio Guzmán, Marc Recha, Rithy Panh, among others; and the filmmaker Juan Palacios, whose feature film Inland opened the official section of MajorDocs.
“Do you prioritize the professional relationship over the personal one?”, asks the moderator, Miquel M. Freixas. A big sigh from Bidou gave us a clue, “All life is professional and personal because everything is linked. It’s hard for me to tell the difference because I work all the time.” There’s the crux: Family conciliation? What price is paid? And by whom? The families, the friends, the creator himself? Juan Palacios backs up Bidou’s thoughts, “Personal life is also the time you dedicate to yourself, which is not filming. It is difficult to separate, as they mix.” Meanwhile, Guzmán comes to the fore, “My vision is different because I don’t make films but it is a passion. For me, my work is my life and my life is my work. I don’t neglect my family but I’m always attentive.”
The next question asked by Martí Freixas touched on the thorny issue of the ethics of documentary cinema that works with reality, one with no actors, no money, with the invasion of the private sphere of people who agree to stand in front of a camera for free.
Bidou reiterated his unalterable premise, “If there’s no ethical position, there is no film.” Palacios’ experience filming Meseta, in the town of his grandparents, allowed him to “get involved with people, at first without a camera, I get to know them. It takes time. It’s true that since you’re asking all the time, it makes me uncomfortable, and although I try to establish a relationship at the same level, it simply isn’t equal. We have the power in the relationship.” Andrea Guzmán affirmed that “in the films the imprint of the relationship you have established with the characters remains.” I remembered the films of her father, Patricio, who treats with infinite respect those he puts before the camera.
Free to dream, Martí Freixas proposed the imaginary idea if documentary cinema yielded money. “Would your passion, your ethics, be the same?” Juan Palacios broadened his already big smile and assured us that “it would be the same hours.” Bidou repositioned the question by clarifying that “it’s a question of passion, not money. If you want to make money, don’t make documentaries, not even fiction movies. This life is always precarious.” Andrea Guzmán concluded, “When you like what you do, you will do it the same way.” There is no remedy! Fortunately for movie lovers.
The survival act facing filmmakers, of the film troupe, means they are forced to moonlight. “It enriches me, for example, teaching classes,” confessed Andrea Guzmán, addicted to teaching since relatively recently. Juan Palacios did not deny that “diversifying is enriching, but it would be better if I could dedicate myself to just making movies and got paid well for it”. Bidou, with a professional career that supports him, shared his ‘Make A Living Out Of Reality’ saying, “If I don’t make fiction, I cannot survive.”
The talk drew to an end with the why, the reason why, each filmmaker approaches a specific topic.
“I’m not aware of why. It’s a game of fascination in that zone of how I can bring it to life in space and time. I don’t know if I’m looking to do something useful,” answered Palacios. Bidou got practical, saying, “Making movies is a job and we must make a living from it. It’s not a holiday fling.” Andrea Guzmán recalled the obvious, saying, “A filmmaker has to have a clear objective, their project.” Many forget it.
“When I get overwhelmed watching movies that I don’t like but then suddenly I find what I do like, I remind myself why I’m here.” Freixas’ sentiment remained in the blue sky of the morning of Wednesday 30th September, a place of happiness that is found in good cinema.