The French director has been a film curator at the French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York since 2000, but that doesn’t stop her from making films. A regular at the Berlinale where she has been presenting short films and film sculptures from Papal Broken-Dance, she comes this year with an insightful documentary, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, which also just won the Teddy Award for Best Documentary.
Sum up your Berlinale film in one sentence
An intimate, affecting portrait of the life and work of groundbreaking performance artist and music pioneer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and his wife and collaborator, Lady Jaye, centered around the daring sexual transformations the pair underwent for their “pandrogyne” project.
Two good reasons why people should bother and queue in the cold winter to see it?
It is a good film! And a surprising one! A rock and love story….a good combination.
How did you come up with the initial idea for this film? Where/when did it all start?
I first saw Genesis perform seven years ago at the Knitting Factory. In a typically miraculous New York City coincidence, I met Genesis at a gallery opening in Soho, in one of those sardine-can spaces where you can barely walk and hardly breathe. This marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that would develop into a close friendship.
Like many others who have encountered him, I saw in Genesis the simple and profound notion that the manner in which you live your life is the highest and most unimpeachable form of art that exists.“My project is not about gender” he said. “Some feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body, others like a woman trapped in a man’s body. The pandrogyne says, I just feel trapped in a body. The body is simply the suitcase that carries us around. Pandrogyny is all about the mind, consciousness.”
The passing of Lady Jaye is central to my film. I thought this tragic event would prevent me from continuing to shoot, but to Genesis, the completion of this film would be the most appropriate way to honor his love and life with Jaye.
Why do you make films?
I always wanted to make films and spent my life in the movie theatres, skipping classes to see films… so it was a necessity and it gathers all the medium I love so deeply: filming, the relationships to the subjects, decors, costumes to make, editing.
If you didn’t make films, what would you do? Why?
A Musician… but i can’t play a note! Or sing in tune!
What would you like to be remembered for?
A good filmmaker and the person that I am for those who know me.
Take two films on a desert island…
I would never go to an island… but I would take films, chocolate and music. For film I would have to take more than two: Cluny Brown, Two-Lane Blacktop, Nights of Cabiria, Ménilmontant, Diary of a Lost Girl, Walden, Adieu Philipine, Doors Cut Down, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Winchester ’73… and tons more.
A director that changed your life?
Fellini, Godard, Lubitch, Fassbinder, Rohmer, Rozier, Maysels, Eustache, Ozu, Jonas Mekas, Jack Smith….
Why did you submit your film to the Forum section? What do you expect to get from your exposure at the Berlinale?
Because I have shown before at the Arsenal and adore the programmers, the festival and audience. And now this is my first feature film, so I wanted to try the Forum, which is my favorite section. I know that the audience is the right one for my film.
What are you looking forward to during your stay in Berlin?
To get exposure for my film, good response, and some press and enjoy finally the work after seven years alone making this film!