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Barbet Schroeder the star of Visions du Réel


- For its 46th edition, the Visions du Réel Festival decided to celebrate the unique style of director Barbet Schroeder, somewhere between documentary and fiction

Barbet Schroeder the star of Visions du Réel
Barbet Schroeder (centre) at Visions du Réel

This year’s Visions du Réel Festival gave professionals and curious cinephiles alike the chance to dive into the work of Barbet Schroeder, a charismatic director who has enjoyed a unique career. As well as awarding him the prestigious Prix Maître du réel Raiffeisen, this year Visions du Réel screened a series of his films and gave us a rich and fascinating masterclass with him.

The masterclass, organised by the festival in collaboration with the ECAL (école cantonale d’art de Lausanne) was joined by director Luciano Barisone and Lionel Baier (head of the film department at ECAL) and strewn with film clips that sparked rich discussion and unexpected anecdotes. Going in chronological order from Schroeder’s early work with Eric Rohmer, his proclaimed teacher, moving on to his work in documentaries (General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, Koko: A Talking Gorilla) and paradocumentaries (La Vallée), and finally his experience in Hollywood and dabblings in Colombian film (Our Lady of the Assassins), Barbet Schroeder gave us a bountiful masterclass rich in food for thought.

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His relationship with reality, not only in his documentaries, places his filmography at the heart of a festival which has made reality its raison d’être. Right from the start, his close collaboration with Eric Rohmer encouraged him to delve into the subject, making him a bona fide “fetishist of the real”. In Schroeder’s films, every plane is a point of view, a window on the world, a reflection of reality. As he himself often points out, his reason for making films is to “find out more: about the people who fascinate him, a true strategy for getting up close and personal with them and capturing their essence. We see the same obsessive quest for precision in his fictional films, which become reflections of a “possible reality”: “For me the truer the better. I’m always drawn to the elements of truth in a story and a character”. Few words that sum up his style perfectly.

(Translated from Italian)

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