Film Festival Breakouts

NYFF 2018 Main Slate Emerging Filmmakers: JR

New Machine’s Ana Stefanovic profiles the new and emerging filmmakers screening in the 55th New York Film Festival’s official feature lineup, which kicks of September 27 and runs until October 15. Here we introduce you to JR.

JR  – Faces Places (co-directed with Agnès Varda)

Official Synopsis: At age 88, Agnès Varda teamed up with the 33-year-old visual artist JR for this unassuming masterpiece, a tour of rural France that celebrates artisanal production, workers’ solidarity, and the photographic arts in the face of mortality.

About the Filmmaker:

  • JR is the pseudonym of a French photographer, filmmaker and artist whose identity is unconfirmed.
  • His latest project the feature documentary Faces Places (Visages, villages ) is his second feature which he co-directed with Agnès Varda.
  • When Agnes and JR met in 2015, they immediately wanted to work together and agreed to make a film in France, far from the cities. The two of them traveled with the photographic truck (which is charmingly decorated to look like a giant camera) around France and discussed visions with people they met.
  • They have single liberating agenda that, each place they visit, they’ll meet the people there, and JR will produce his epic-size black-and-white portraits of them, which they will then plaster on houses, barns, storefronts: any available surface.
  • On their journey they photograph mostly working-class folks. The monumental nature of the images gives a heroic scale to anonymous people. It’s a sketchbook of working-class rural French life. Faces Places is a collage movie resolutely turned towards others, present and maybe the future. It’s about art, how do we perceive what is happening to us, what is happening to the people we meet.
  • Faces Places makes a powerful statement about the kind of society we’re becoming, in which the one percent don’t just own too much of everything; they get all the attention too.
  • Faces Places recently won the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
  • JR also directed short movie Ellis (2015), starring Robert De Niro and Les bosquets (2015) a ballet and eponymous short film, nominated for Best Documentary Short at Tribeca Film Festival 2015.
  • His feature documentary Women Are Heroes (2010)  was nominated at Cannes Film Festival 2010 for Golden Camera.
  • JR’s Face 2 Face (2007) is the biggest illegal exhibition ever (he didnt get official permission to place large scale photos on Palestinian or Israeli walls). It consists of taking portraits of Palestinians and Israelis who have the same job and pasting them face to face, in huge formats, in unavoidable places, on both Israeli and Palestinian sides of the wall.
  • He creates pervasive art that he puts up on the buildings in the Paris area projects, on the walls of the Middle East, on the broken bridges of Africa or in the favelas of Brazil. In his artistic acts, no scene separates the actors from the spectators.
  • JR started his career after finding a camera in the Paris metro, and traveled Europe to meet those who express themselves on walls and facades, and pasted their portraits in the streets, undergrounds and rooftops of Paris.

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