July 2015

"La marche à suivre - Guidelines"

by Jean-François Caissy, opens October 10, 2015

Teenagers at a secondary school in the Canadian provinces. A time between childhood and adulthood where boundaries are tested and overstepped. One day they’re still drawing tattoos on their arms with felt tips and making papier-mâché fish in class, the next smoking between lessons, easily capable of pointing out the local pot dealer. This particular aspect of their daily reality – breaking rules, discipline problems at school and conflicts with other students – shine through in the long conversations conducted between the adolescents and their social workers. The school is less interesting in this context as an educational institution than as society’s last chance of having an impact on its young. Just as they are collectively vaccinated here against diseases, this is also where they have moral guidelines for how to live together in society laid out for them. The film's own approach has nothing to do with social education however. Its calmly observed conversations and carefully composed images of the teenagers in their free time articulate a sense of interest and empathy for this odd period in life, content to patiently watch the sweet bird of youth in its attempts to take flight. (Anna Hoffmann, Forum catalogue)

Rebellion and Adaptation

is in some ways the second stage of a research effort that began with my earlier film, La belle visite (2009), which was an observational documentary about aging, made in a seniors’ home. For this new project, I wanted to shoot in a shared space once again – a physical location that would let me zero in on my subject, but also give me a chance to work with a larger group of people. As a photographer by training, I’ve always approached documentary filmmaking very intuitively, working mostly by accumulation, without a script or main characters. It’s an approach that to some extent resembles that of a photographic series. With La marche à suivre, the structure and the very concept of the film arose naturally. I was going to be working with teenagers for the first time, so I was looking for some kind of device to get around the fact that they’re often so conscious of their appearance, without having to do a lot of prep work with them ahead of the shooting. Although the original concept for the film didn’t involve filming in a school setting, my research led me to visit the little secondary school that I attended in my own teen years. After doing some location scouting, I was invited to sit in on a closed-door meeting in a small conference room, involving a troubled student, his father and the school principal. They discussed the student’s turbulent behaviour in class, and he was visibly tense and serious as he faced these two authority figures. The stark contrast between his classroom antics and his attitude during the meeting struck me as highly evocative of adolescence. I realised that singular moments like these would be a way for me to convey the essence of the kids’ concerns in a very short time, and that the private nature of these meetings also had the potential to generate feelings of empathy toward the students I would be filming. To counterbalance the scenes in the school, I decided to create more playful ones to show the teens more in control, through their actions. Shot from a distance, these scenes of exploration complete the film, and also relocate the kids in their rural context. They seem more interchangeable, more anonymous. (Jean-François Caissy)

Jean-François Caissy was born in 1977, in the village of Saint- Omer on the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec, Canada. He studied photography in Matane, and his photos have been featured in various galleries and museums around the world. In 2003, he founded his own production company, and in 2005, he produced and directed his first documentary feature, La saison des amours / Mating Season. Jean-François Caissy lives in Montréal. Films: La saison des amours/Mating Season (2005, 72 min.). La belle visite/Journey̓s End (2010, 80 min., Forum 2010). La marche à suivre / Guidelines (2014).

Canada 2014. Format: DCP, Colour. Running Time: 76 min. Language Version: French with German subtitles. Director, screenwriter, sound: Jean-François Caissy. Director of Photography: Nicolas Canniccioni. Editor: Mathieu Bouchard-Malo. Producer: Johanne Bergeron. World Sales: National Film Board of Canada, Montreal (Canada). World Premiere: February 11, 2014, Berlinale Forum.