Connecting cultures: a French filmmaker’s passion for fusion

Benjamin Barthelemy Photos: Courtesy of Benjamin Barthelemy

There is a saying that American films are about capital while French films are about art. A young French director said he would sacrifice everything for his film. Now the independent filmmaker is biding his time in Beijing.
“Can I live without piano? The answer was ‘almost impossible’. Can I live without making films? It is simply ‘impossible’,” Benjamin Barthelemy asked himself these two questions so as to make a decision when he was 19 years old. He got the answer from the bottom of his heart.
Barthelemy was born into a family of filmmakers. His uncle was a renowned director and his father was a TV scriptwriter.  “My uncle showed me the way into cinematography. He didn’t tell me what I should do, but encouraged me to do what I needed to do,” Barthelemy said of his uncle.
“I didn’t enjoy making films at first but I felt I needed to do it. I do it not because of fun but because I want to be an artist. Also I need to express myself in the film.”
He started playing piano at the age of six. After a 13-year practice, he reached the level where he could live the music thanks to his three mentors. “Everyone can be the best. It’s not about the ability, but about the way of thinking. I can share my emotions with others through music.”
But a lot of time spent on piano lessons every day was overwhelming to the boy who also had schoolwork and film. That’s why he had to make the hardest choice of his life so far.
To make up the loss in music, he self-composes sound tracks for his films. “When you make a film, everything is about rhythm, like the timing, movement and speed. I believe that musicians are always the best directors. I’m glad that my parents forced me to learn piano when I was a kid,” he said while tuning in with the humming evening traffic near the 3rd Ring Road.

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