The Prix Jean Vigo goes to Stéphane Batut
by Fabien Lemercier
- Thanks to Burning Ghost, the filmmaker has joined the winning ranks of a prize rewarding originality, while an Honorary Jean Vigo Award was bestowed upon Alain Cavalier
Celebrating independent thinking, originality and quality of work in filmmaking, the 67th Prix Jean Vigo has been awarded to Stéphane Batut for his film Burning Ghost [+see also:
film profile] (unveiled within the ACID programme of the recent Cannes Film Festival). The director can now add his name to the distinguished list of previous winners, namely Jean-Luc Godard, Maurice Pialat, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Garrel, Olivier Assayas, Bruno Dumont, Laurent Cantet, Xavier Beauvois, Alain Guiraudie, Mathieu Amalric, and last year’s joint winners Jean-Bernard Marlin and Yann Gonzalez.
Stéphane Batut’s first full-length fiction film, Burning Ghost was praised by the Jean Vigo jury “for its poetic audacity, its timeless romanticism and its faith in the power of film to transcend the boundaries between life and death". Written by the director alongside Christine Dory and Frédéric Videau, the story follows in the footsteps of Juste who wanders through Paris looking for people whom only he can see. He collects their last memory before allowing them to pass over to the other side. One day, a young woman called Agathe recognises him. She’s alive, he’s a ghost. How can they make their love work and seize this second chance that they’ve been given? Thimotée Robart, Judith Chemla, Saadia Bentaïeb and Djolof Mbengue all stand out among the cast, while Céline Bozon helms the film’s photography. Produced by Mélanie Gérin and Paul Rozenberg of Zadig Films, the film will be distributed in France as of 28 August by Les Films du Losange, who are also heading up international sales.
The 2019 Jean Vigo Award for a Short Film, meanwhile, was handed to Claude Schmitz for Carwash and "for the manner in which he combines original humour with formal elegance, a surrealist spirit with impressionist light". The 59-minute film was produced by Annabelle Bouzom on behalf of Les films de l’autre cougar and in co-production with Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains.
And finally, an Honorary Jean Vigo award was bestowed upon Alain Cavalier, who was described by the jury as "a free-thinking filmmaker whose strange journey takes us far away from the world of film studios, allowing the viewer to get as close as physically possible to humankind", and whose back catalogue includes somewhere in the region of thirty feature films, ranging from 1962’s Le combat dans l’île to the fascinating Living and Knowing You’re Alive [+see also:
film profile] (released in French cinemas on 5 June having been unveiled out of competition in Cannes’ Official Selection last month).
(Translated from French)
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