Félix Brossard, a politically engaged documentary producer

Behind the scenes of the doc­u­men­tary Our Broth­ers’ and Sis­ters’ Keep­ers, which will be shown at the Grand Rex in Paris on Decem­ber 9 after sev­er­al nation­al broad­casts, reveals the incred­i­ble jour­ney of a team tak­en to Poland in the sum­mer of 2022 by 21-year-old UTC stu­dent Felix Brossard. Immer­sion at the heart of the only project to have been autho­rised to col­lect tes­ti­monies from Ukrain­ian refugees and vol­un­teers in the Prze­myśl camp in Poland, around ten kilo­me­tres from the Ukrain­ian border.

Félix Brossard, a stu­dent in his 3rd semes­ter of com­put­er engi­neer­ing (GI3), lives and breathes cin­e­ma and images. Founder of the Stu­dio N Asso­ci­a­tion, one of the largest vol­un­tary asso­ci­a­tions in France with almost 400 mem­bers, and a found­ing mem­ber of the Stu­dio N com­pa­ny and the “Fédéra­tion française du ciné­ma asso­cia­tive”, the Deux-Sévrien is a com­mit­ted enthusiast.

He’s a worka­holic and a hyper­ac­tive per­son who doesn’t like to be bored: «There’s too much to do for that! His aspi­ra­tion: «To give mean­ing to my life and use what I know how to do to help oth­ers”. A week after Rus­sia declared war on Ukraine on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2022, Félix and a group from Stu­dio N decid­ed to get involved. “It’s the first time we’ve expe­ri­enced a con­flict on our con­ti­nent,» says Félix. We imag­ine that young peo­ple our age are fight­ing for their coun­try. We’re not good at human­i­tar­i­an work, but we are good at images. We agreed to make a doc­u­men­tary in the Prze­myśl camp in Poland where thou­sands of Ukraini­ans had tak­en refuge. We weren’t look­ing for shock images, but per­son­al tes­ti­monies to get the mes­sage across to Europe. The city gave us per­mis­sion to film. It’s unprece­dent­ed and a crazy exclu­sive». The accounts gath­ered in Prze­myśl in Poland, the first town locat­ed around ten kilo­me­tres from the Ukrain­ian bor­der, illus­trate the com­mit­ment and bold­ness of the young team. The doc­u­men­tary Our Broth­ers’ and Sis­ters «brings us back down to earth and helps us under­stand the key issues,» says Félix. We have mes­sages to spread so that peo­ple under­stand what hap­pened over there. Screened at the CGR Niort mul­ti­plex on Novem­ber 10, the Poitiers-Castille mul­ti­plex on Novem­ber 17, the Angoulême mul­ti­plex on Novem­ber 24 and the Bor­deaux-Le Français mul­ti­plex on Decem­ber 1, thanks to CC GE37 stu­dents from UTC who are organ­is­ing these pre­views, the doc­u­men­tary will also be shown at the Grand Rex in Paris on Decem­ber 9. Accord­ing to the UTC stu­dent: «Being sup­port­ed by the cin­e­ma sec­tor is no mean feat”.

Locations for novel shoots

At the end of June 2022, after a day and a half’s jour­ney, the team dis­em­barked at Prze­myśl, in a tran­sit camp that was mere­ly a stage on the way to anoth­er host coun­try, such as Ger­many, France and «above all Poland, which has a sim­i­lar cul­ture and gives refugees the oppor­tu­ni­ty to return home fair­ly quick­ly». Here, every­thing is run by asso­ci­a­tions, NGOs (non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions) and vol­un­teers like Hes­sel, a for­mer Dutch banker who left every­thing behind to help peo­ple in absolute need. «He is doing some­thing that is essen­tial for him. It’s reset his val­ues to zero. It’s a real slap in the face. After sev­en days on the ground, and four­teen record­ed tes­ti­monies from vol­un­teers and refugees, the doc­u­men­tary Our Broth­ers and Sis­ters deliv­ers 42 min­utes of sto­ries «some­times ter­ri­ble and under­stood after the fact when edit­ing. And that was not easy to handle…» 

In ear­ly 2023, moved by the doc­u­men­tary, the for­mer Dutch banker con­tact­ed the team again to fol­low him to Ukraine in human­i­tar­i­an groups. «We were accred­it­ed by the head of the Ukrain­ian army to film and show the sit­u­a­tion on the ground. It was con­crete. There was no turn­ing back. From a human­i­tar­i­an and pro­fes­sion­al point of view, this was an oppor­tu­ni­ty not to be missed, even though we’re no longer in Poland but in Ukraine, with all the risks that entails», stress­es the enthu­si­ast. Last July, in Fas­tiv, Irpin, Uman and Kiev, the team, deeply affect­ed by the con­se­quences of the war and what they saw there, filmed the sec­ond episode of a much wider, glob­al project. The thir­ty or so inter­views and 50 hours of footage shot are cur­rent­ly being trans­lat­ed into a new documentary.

Studies with an entrepreneurial spirit

« UTC leaves a lot of room for projects out­side study time and encour­ages a great deal of auton­o­my and invest­ment. It’s undoubt­ed­ly thanks to this for­mu­la that I was able to get involved in this project», admits Félix. To set up large-scale projects like this one, Robin, a friend and mem­ber of the BDE (student’s union) to which the young doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er also belongs, points out that «you need the men­tal strength to get involved. A lot of stu­dents have an entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it, but the hard­est part is putting it into prac­tice. He’s going to do it. That’s always impressed me about Félix. He nev­er makes excus­es. He works all the time because he knows how to put his social and stu­dent life on hold. I was imme­di­ate­ly impressed by his approach. We had a lot of ques­tions about going out into the open to take pic­tures. But it was a care­ful­ly thought-out project with a whole approach. In Poland, it was safe and reas­sur­ing. In Ukraine, there was the pos­si­bil­i­ty that he wouldn’t come back…». Today, the young UTC under­grad hopes to leave again, but with his engi­neer­ing diplo­ma in his pock­et and to com­plete the many projects in progress with the Stu­dio N Asso­ci­a­tion: the forth­com­ing release of a short pirate-based film shot in 2022 on the island of Oléron and the organ­i­sa­tion of the Nation­al Fes­ti­val of Asso­cia­tive Cin­e­ma this summer.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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