Our double bill on Olivier Assayas continues this week with the online premiere of the rarely seen documentary Aware, Anywhere – Olivier Assayas, a documentary about Assayas directed by Benoît Bourreau as part of the legendary Cinéma, de notre temps series. Previously broadcast in an abbreviated version on Ciné+ and TV5 Monde, this is the first time the full cut will be shown since it premiered at the International Film Festival of Geneva (GIFF) in 2017.
Formerly titled Cinéastes, de notre temps, this collection was created by Janine Bazin (wife of Cahiers du cinéma founder André Bazin) and another important cinephile and cinema guru, André S. Labarthe, who sadly passed away earlier this year. This documentary series comprises over 100 unforgettable episodes featuring masters talking about their work, such as Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, François Truffaut, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Samuel Fuller, Jerry Lewis, John Cassavetes, Carl Theodor Dreyer (directed by Éric Rohmer), and Jean Renoir (by Jacques Rivette). Olivier Assayas himself directed an entry in the series about Hou Hsiao-hsien twenty years before he became the subject of Aware, Anywhere.
Aware, Anywhere is an intimate portrait of Assayas that cleverly blends Assayas’ thoughts – on his films, his approach to cinema, and the place of cinema today – with clips from his filmography and behind the scenes from the making of Personal Shopper, including footage of Assayas preparing scenes with Kristen Stewart.
The documentary is centered around a conversation between Assayas and his longtime friend Kent Jones, the filmmaker and director of the New York Film Festival who helped bring exposure to Assayas’ work in the U.S. Jones has directed documentaries such as Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) and A Letter to Elia (2010), he also co-wrote Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P. (2013), and IFC Films will release his narrative feature debut, Diane, in 2019. New York Film Festival opens today with a stellar lineup, including Assayas’ Non-Fiction, which screens on October 2nd and 3rd.
“I think the film reveals a lot about Olivier. One reads different things depending on one’s knowledge of his work. You definitely understand that he is someone who thinks about cinema incredibly well, and who works within a film legacy, who has a clear notion of film history, of the present and future of cinema. You also get that Olivier is someone who always questions and challenges himself, who works constantly.” BENOÎT BOURREAU
Benoît Bourreau’s intention for this portrait was to place Assayas within a story, one that would give shape to a character. This story has three tracks: a trip through Assayas’ films, a contemporary moment in Assayas’ life that shows the ups and downs of a filmmaker’s life – from bouncing from an aborted project (Idol’s Eyes) to the shooting of another (Personal Shopper) – and finally to the North American premiere of his film. Aware, Anywhere was shot in 2016, exactly thirty years after the release of Assayas’ first feature Désordre, the end of which is set in New York City. Bourreau worked with cinematographer Sean Price Williams (Her Smell, Good Time, Marjorie Prime) to shoot the New York City part of the film.
Benoît Bourreau started by studying art, including at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, and pursued his studies at Le Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains. Artist, author, and filmmaker, Benoît directed the mid-length documentary Mieux partagés que nous ne sommes (2006), which screened at the Locarno International Film Festival and the Montreal International Festival of Films on Art. His short film Le Chant des particules (2011) was selected at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. His first feature-length documentary, Making Heretics (2016), premiered at the IndieLisboa International Film Festival. He is currently developing two narrative feature projects.
- Credits for
- AWARE, ANYWHERE
- Olivier Assayas, Kent Jones & Kristen Stewart
- produced by
- Bastien Ehouzan, Charles Gillibert & Sylvie Barthet
- Pascal Auffray & Sean Price Williams
- Sanabel Cherqaoui & Mathilde Van de Moortel