Here is an hommage to Marcel Mazé by the French film critic Raphael Bassan.
Marcel Maze (1940-2012)
I met Marcel in May 1970.
He was close with the brother of a friend of mine.
I met him when he was a deputy chief of staff (a
position he held at the Agence France Presse).
I was looking for work. He had none to offer me.
During this interview, we got to talking about
cinema, and experimental cinema in particular. He
became very excited when I told him I was
interested in underground cinema (as it was
called at the time). As I was leaving, Marcel
invited me to attend a film screening from the
Hyères festival he organized on June 23 at tbe
Studio du Val de Grace, an art house theatre that
has since disappeared. I went there, and I ran
into two friends who were already working with
Marcel: Jean-Paul Cassagnac and Olivier Delilez.
Imagine my surprise when in September of that
year, Marcel called me to serve on the
pre-selection jury for the Festival d'Hyeres,
whose consultant in Paris he had become. I, who
had accomplished nothing (except a short film),
there I was at the National Film Center watching
movies for one of the most prestigious festivals
in France. The Collectif Jeune Cinema was founded
right after the 1971 festival. Marcel appointed
me as a full-fledged jury member for the 1972
edition of the Hyeres Festival.
However, this festival, which offered only one
section at that time (a mixture of arthouse and
experimental films), could not indefinitely
expand its programs of experimental cinema.
In 1973, the festival was split in two: "Cinema
of Today" with movies that were seen elsewhere,
including the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, and
"Different Cinema" for which Marcel became the
managing director until 1983 (the last festival).
While various members of the CJC took part (as
consultants) in selecting films for the festival,
it remained independent, and all the French and
foreign filmmakers who presented interesting
films were likely to be invited to join the CJC.
The Collectif and the festival were two different
things with a common denominator, one man: Marcel
Here is the panorama:
Unlike others (including myself who soon became a
film critic) for whom the CJC was a temporary
passage, a springboard, it was the very heart of
Marcel's life. He thought about it at every
moment of his existence. I remember, he had made
his office at the AFP into a meeting place for
the CJC, much to the fury of his boss who often
came to kick us out.
To select movies for Hyères, Marcel took long
unpaid vacations. If it were not for the CJC,
Marcel would have had a first-class career at the
AFP. But this work didn't interest him, and he
took early retirement as soon as he could, in
order to rebuild the CJC. A thankless job!
All this did not bring Marcel much: little
recognition and few texts in the press were
devoted to him.
With the disappearance of Marcel Mazé, I have
lost one of my oldest friends and accomplices,
even though sometimes I didn't agree with him -
often I was wrong!
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