Jérôme le Maire Masterclass at M7

Documentary is the art of meetings. This was the starting point of Belgian Jérôme le Maire, when he talked to young and younger filmmakers at the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade. The title of the very well prepared class could also have been ”the story of my film”. It all started with a book about the phenomenon ”burned out”. le Maire met with the author and with a psychoanalyst and a psychologist – and started a research. I became friend with the author, Pascal Chabot, and he let me meet a girl who had had the experience, as well as a ”professor in burn-out”, to whom I showed my previous film, ”Tea or Electricity”. I explained that I wanted to make the film in direct cinema style. He liked the film and the idea.

The third meeting was with Esmeralda together with the psychoanalyst and the psychologist. She worked in a consulting company and sat in an open space office – I met people there but would it be interesting to film people in front of computers? No…

The breakthrough came, when the writer Pascal was invited to the hospital to talk to members of the staff. He was invited by Marie-Christine, who was to be the main character of ”Burning Out”. This

was six months after I had read the book. It takes time to make films. Good films. I decided to film in the hospital and had to cut the link to Esmeralda, whose story had meant a lot fo me.

Then came the long procedure to get the permission to film. Where can I go and where can I not go. I went there three days a week, Came in the morning, met someone and asked if I could follow them. They found it strange with this man going around with them with a notebook – what is so interesting, they asked.

Main character became Marie-Christine, the anesthetic nurse, who was interesting because she was interested in changing the bad working situations. 2nd was the surgeon Sarfati, be careful with him, people said, but I met with him, showed him my Morocco film (”Tea or Electricity”), he became a friend, and then Sabrina, nursing assistant, who said that so far nobody had had any interest in what she was doing…

I brought the camera. Well, first I took photos and filmed with a small camera to make them feel comfortable with the situation – but after months I still did not have the authorisation, I was pushed from one to the other. It took me 3 months to get it! But at that time I already had the confidence of the characters, they trusted me and I trusted them. Why did it take so long time to get an ok – it was also because that I had to, again and again, promise not to damage the image of the hospital. I will listen to you, you will see the film before it is finished, but I have the final cut. ”Are you a fireman or a pyromaniac”, they asked! I said to the management, ”I have the message of hope”, ”I felt I had a role” and I decided to be a character, who interferes by asking questions. The audience had the right to know that there was someone behind the camera. I filmed first for half a year, and then had to get out in the sun, I started to feel traumatic and then I came back and concentrated on the characters…

Jérome le Maire ended his masterclass by giving facts: 1 ½ year of research, 1 year of shooting, and for the editing I also attended the DOKInkubator, three sessions, very helpful for me, again a meeting. The film will be broadcast on arte in November, it is being released at theatres in Belgium. It was at IDFA and then quickly after that at Magnificent7 in Belgrade.

Photo: Maja Medic.






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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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