The filmmaker Jacques Rozier, a figure of the New Wave, has died at the age of 96. He died in hospital on the night of Thursday to Friday, said Michèle Berson who worked with him for fifteen years.
"Jacques Rozier has just left us. He was freedom itself, and we will miss him terribly, "responded the Cinémathèque française, paying tribute to him on Twitter: "of the filmmakers of the New Wave, Rozier is the one who rambles. The one who likes everything to go wrong, to better feed his very particular sense of dramaturgy".
"Of the filmmakers of the New Wave, Rozier is the one who rambles. The one who likes everything to go wrong, to better feed his very particular sense of dramaturgy: interweaving the art of crossover with the oblique routes of the treasure hunt.... 1/2 pic.twitter.com/mMH15VWjr4
— La Cinémathèque (@cinemathequefr) June 3, 2023
If he did not have the success of a Truffaut or a Godard, his work was regularly praised by critics and rewarded. Prix Jean Vigo 1986 for "Maine Océan", René Clair Prize 1997 for all of his work, Carrosse d'or 2002 in Cannes, Jacques Rozier directed "Adieu Philippine" (1962), chronicle of youth against the backdrop of the Algerian war, "Du côté d'Orouët" (1973), presented at the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes, and which revealed Bernard Menez. Pierre Richard and Jacques Villeret appear as "Les naufragés de l'île de la tortue", released in 1976.
His film "Fifi martingale" (2001), never released in cinemas, with Jean Lefebvre and Lui Rego, was nominated at the Venice Film Festival, in the Lion of the Year category, which aims to give visibility to marginal films and reward daring works. His last feature film, "The Parisian Parrot" (2007), remained unfinished.
"The real New Wave, there are only two of us"
Screenwriter and director, he has also shot about twenty short films. He has worked with Jean Renoir and Marcel Bluwal, among others; he had made a documentary on the filming of Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt" with Brigitte Bardot, hunted by the paparazzi. In 2019, Godard hailed the trace left by Rozier in French cinema: "When Agnès Varda died, I thought: the real New Wave, we are only two. Me and (...) Jacques Rozier who started a little before me." It was Godard, after the success of "À bout de souffle", who had introduced Rozier to his producer, Georges de Beauregard, allowing him to make "Adieu Philippine".
But his way of working confuses, and angers the financiers. In an interview with Cahiers du Cinéma, Pierre Richard described: "For him, time does not matter, in life as in films. More than taking his time, he gives it all its value. With this method, if it is one, you do not have time to make your cinema, with your little acting tics, since you do not know what will happen. "He was an independent filmmaker, free," said his collaborator, he worked "without a preconceived script in advance" and had an ability to "restore the present".
In the fall of 2021, Rozier was supposed to do a retrospective at the Cinémathèque, but the project failed due to disagreements and financial concerns. A few months earlier, at the initiative of Michèle Berson, Pierre Richard and others, including the actor Patrick Chesnais, sounded the alarm: then 94 years old, the filmmaker and his wife were going to be evicted from their home in Neuilly-sur-Seine. All he had left was a small studio in which he stored all his reels. Luis Rego had then defended "a phenomenon, a magician, a poet of the seventh art".