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Harry Cleven


Harry Cleven

Often one tells to himself the story of one’s life. It gives the impression of knowing oneself, roughly
But sometimes, someone from the past comes back and reveals how he or she used to think of you...and suddenly, everything collapses
This is how I used to tell my own story :
I was not supposed to make films... mecanician, scrap merchant...not a single artist in the family
The rest was left to chance...
I wanted to be a painter, I became an actor .
I was keen on theatre, I ended up doing cinema.
I wanted to be on the screen, I went behind the camera
. I wanted to read texts, scream, laugh, cry...I wrote texts...
with characters who scream, laugh, and cry.
Then someday, an old friend I had not seen for years sees Abracadabra. He recognises me in my film, so much that he wants to meet again
He looks for me and finally reaches me. We meet and share memories. To my surprise, he congratulates me for doing what I always wanted to do. To him, my destiny seems so obvious he wonders why I did not expect it.
He remembers me as someone who invented stories all the time.
When I was twelve, I even wanted to write a novel, the adventures of an Indian, ‘Standing Horse’ ?!
I remember none of this, but Standing Horse made made me shiver... Since then, my life has changed...
My friend is right ; ‘tis true, I always wanted to tell stories. Yet my destiny was to paint first, and then become a stage actor before I played for the cinema, which led me to finally make movies and tell my own stories.
‘This true, I lived in a fiction : when I was a boy, I dreamt all the time. I spent hours inventing a different life for myself...That was my way to escape. In fact, I remember some things ; I remember I wanted to be a magician, and be able to change things...
It is still true now, that I would like to be a magician and other people dream, too...I’d like ‘my story to change the others’...
Actually, when I made my first film, I did feel like I had found an object I had lost so long ago that I didn’t even remember missing it.
As if it was the obvious thing to do.

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Excerpted from A chacun son cinéma, Cent cinéastes belges pour un centenaire, Cinergie Éditions & les Éditions Luc Pire, 1995

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