I have been fighting to make these films for more than four years. They are intended as a journey, a wander, through French cinema. The approach is neither academic nor chronological. The aim is to offer thanks and gratitude to all those works and their authors that have touched me, upset me and enriched me too; to all those who have struggled on behalf of cinema and because of whom I found myself as a film-worker. My travels begin with the birth of the talkies, with René Clair and end in 1970, the year I became a director, to avoid any conflict of interest (in this I follow Martin Scorsese’s film on American cinema). Through these four years of cinema-faring, this project has altered as unexpected discoveries have been made, as sudden passions have flared and also according to availability of material. But the initial premise, to make a film that is admiring, grateful, personal and subjective, has remained unchanged.
Again, I speak of filmmakers whom I have known well, such as Resnais, Grangier, or Autant-Lara; and others with whom or for whom I have worked (Rohmer, Deville, Deray, Giovanni) or met (Chenal, Tati) personally or through others who worked with them (Trauner, Aurenche, Prévert, Audiard); and also all those whom I wish I had met: Jean Grémillon, Henri Decoin, Anatole Litvak, Maurice Tourneur, Charles Spaak. My aim is to bring these men back to life, to give a sense of the shock experienced when I saw their films and to thank them for having illuminated my existence.
Again, I am not a historian nor a teacher. I cannot be nor wish to be exhaustive. I only want to discover or help others discover vibrant works, whose subject-matter and tone is still relevant today; that speak to us of our own times; by filmmakers who have changed my life. I want to help others love what I have myself loved. As the Chinese proverb goes: “When you quench your thirst at a well, do not forget the person who dug it”.