Projectionist in Toulouse, then programmer at the Douarnenez Film Festival, Nicolas Le Gac, 45, founded the association “I saw a documentary” (JVD) in 2013, in Lorient (Morbihan), with two friends. Since then, he has mounted screenings-debates of documentary films in media libraries, farms, businesses and even in a chapel.
The association has 400 members, eight co-president directors and four employees, including a civic service and shared employment – with a neighborhood center and a listening center for parents and children. Despite the cascading cancellations during the Covid crisis, this father of two boys held on. Screenings have resumed, spectators are back and his old dream of opening an arthouse cinema should finally come true.
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The Cross the Weekly : What makes you get up in the morning?
Nicholas LeGac: The desire to open a cinema. When we founded the “I saw a documentary” (JVD) association, almost ten years ago, I wanted to gather an audience around this type of film, but I also had the idea of then creating a art and testing room. I have not forgotten this initial desire and I am delighted, because the project has just been selected by the town hall of Lorient for its ability to breathe dynamism into the city centre.
As it is important for me that it is also a place of exchanges and conviviality, the future building will house three dark rooms, plus another dedicated to image education, and a bistro. The opening could take place in 2024 or 2025. But there is still a lot of work. It is a complex project, with a large budget, which requires significant aid. We are thinking about a status of cooperative society of collective interest (Scic), which allows to put around the table individuals, associations and communities. I am attached to this diversity of approaches. It is a richness to multiply the projects.
How are the French seen by your association?
NLG: Coming out of the health crisis, we feel a change. The members want to come back, to share films and meetings, but there has been damage. Our audience is partly elderly. Some have been weakened by illness or isolation. Others are no longer there. Despite everything, there is a thirst for reunion. I also meet a lot of people in retraining.
A kind of break has occurred. Many say: “I don’t want to start over like before. » I also see young spectators arriving, like during this recent screening of the film Jennig, by Vasken Toranian, followed by a debate with Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek. The film evokes a very endearing woman from Marseilles who, all her life, was the seamstress and the friend of prostitutes.
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What is your assessment of the past five years?
NLG: There was anger and frustration, which was expressed with the movement of yellow vests. This led to a desire for a collective, stopped short by the Covid. But the urge is still there. We don’t live any better than before. On the side of the association, public aid has increased from year to year, but we were starting from the bottom. Every year, projects have to be resubmitted to obtain funding. It’s tedious work and sometimes, in the event of a crisis or a pivotal period, you have to bring funders to the table to find solutions. It would be good to benefit from agreements to develop projects over time. We would be calmer. (Laughs.)
Has a scene stood out to you recently?
NLG: The end of Diverted Ideas (IDD), an association of cultural and solidarity agitators, installed in a wasteland in a district of Lorient, by the sea. IDD was a magical place. A wooden building, of odds and ends, in the middle of new buildings, a bit like the village of Asterix which resists again and again. A warm and generous place.
JVD has organized many screenings there. The guest directors were still thrilled. I remember the Russian filmmaker Alexander Kouznetsov, who came to present territory of freedom : IDD made him think of dachas in Siberia where Russians take refuge in search of freedom. There was a lot of human warmth there, and a lot of little hands that took on daring challenges.
It’s sad to see this collective throwing in the towel after carrying out a project that made sense for fifteen years… I don’t find that very encouraging for the future. The community sector is still precarious.
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What is most important to you in your job?
NLG: Sharing films with people, seeking their validation of our choice of programming. When the validation is not there, well that creates debate! We manage to get together around the films. Whether we like it or not, there is dialogue. It advances.
And then showing films that weren’t meant to be seen in Lorient, it’s great! Little by little, we federated a network of nearly 400 members, which is our strength today. JVD, now well established, has become a reference: it is often called upon to broadcast a documentary related to a cultural or associative event.
What first step would you like Emmanuel Macron, now re-elected, to take?
NLG: That it increases social minima to ensure that there is less precariousness. I would like people to live better. When you hear politicians on the radio talking about an average salary of €2,000, it makes me jump. In our association, we are two employees, paid €1,400.
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At the time of the yellow vests, I heard many testimonies of those who toil for almost nothing. How to live on low income today? There is a growing gap between the different standards of living. It will have to be filled. Otherwise, it will explode.