Here is an hommage to Marcel Mazé by the French film critic Raphael Bassan.
-Pip Chodorov


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 Maze. Here is the panorama: <http://www.tictalik.com/du-cinema-experimental-c%E2%80%99est-mon-genre/histoire-du-festival-de-hyeres>http://www.tictalik.com/du-cinema-experimental-c%E2%80%99est-mon-genre/histoire-du-festival-de-hyeres

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!

Raphael Bassan
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