“I have often filmed things that were ‘just outside my window,’ so to speak, because I am convinced that the whole world is fundamentally ours to discover, right on our doorstep, if we are curious and attentive enough.”
I’m a filmmaker. I regularly switch between documentary-making and fiction. For me, they are two sides of the same art form: cinema. I use both to film stories I either discover in the real world or write myself. I am increasingly interested in combining the narrative approaches of both genres—filming fictional stories in a documentary style and true stories in a fictional style. I have been to Boston several times to show my films, on the invitation of my friend Ross Mac Elwee, and to visit my daughter, a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Now I would like to discover Boston more deeply than in a fleeting trip: I would like to get under the city’s skin.
London-born Claire Simon is a French filmmaker. Her work explores the limits between documentaries and fiction. In 1992, she made a documentary about children’s preschool games, “Récréations,” followed by “Coûte que coûte,” “800 km de difference – Romance,” and “Mimi”. Concurrently, three of her feature films were shown at the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, and she won the prize of the French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD) for “God’s Offices”. Her films have won many accolades at various festivals, including the Belfort Film Festival (Grand prix in the fiction and documentary categories for “That’s Just Like You”) and the Venice Film Festival (Best Documentary for “The Graduation”).
I will continue a project I began in France: filming children in their schoolyard games in elementary schools. My earlier film on that subject, Récréations, enjoyed success in France and abroad.
I am now a grandmother to two little American girls. They live in Boston, and while they are still too young to go to school, I am curious to know how children play in US schools. I would therefore like to observe them in the playgrounds of public, and perhaps private, schools. If agreements are reached with the children’s parents and the schools’ management, I could even start some filmed reconnaissance work to help me develop a Franco-American production for the project.
Spending a residency in Boston would give me a more personal relationship with the city through my project, going well beyond a mere tourist trip and relating to my family ties with the US. I made the film Récréations because of my daughter: she would have preferred me to be an elementary school teacher rather than a film-maker. It would be wonderful to honor the birth of my two granddaughters with my discovery of the school playgrounds of their country of birth. I have often filmed things that were ‘just outside my window,’ so to speak, because I am convinced that the whole world is fundamentally ours to discover, right on our doorstep, if we are curious and attentive enough.
Festival Cinéma du Réel
Since its creation in 1979, Cinéma du réel has become the definitive documentary film festival in France. Cinéma du réel is a testament to the importance of creating a dialogue between contemporary documentary films and those of the past. In celebration of both diversity in writing and of ideas, the festival brings together a large and highly inquisitive audience.
Bibliothèque publique d’information (Bpi)
Located in the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque publique d’information has been open to all since 1977 — six days a week and free of charge. Measuring at over 10,000 square meters in size, the library welcomes nearly 1.5 million visitors each year. It provides access to multidisciplinary collections, and holds many discussion panels and cultural events including in the field of documentary films.