Sheffield’s annual Doc/Fest features documentaries of all shapes and sizes and, typically representing these films, are the directors themselves. This year, one of the most interesting documentaries I was fortunate enough to see was Reset – a chronicle of choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s taking on the role of director for the Paris Opera Ballet – and, during the festival, I took the opportunity to speak to the film’s directors, Alban Teurlai and Thierry Demaiziére.
BH Can you tell us about your film?
AT It’s about creation because we spent three months with Benjamin Millepiede at the Ballet Nacional De Paris filming him bringing his rehersal of his new ballet and it’s about the story Benjamin Millepied arriving from the New York City Ballet and trying to show how difficult it was for him to come back to France and to fight the administration who are set in their ways as to how they work.
BH How did the project come about?
AT Two years ago there was a film in the United States called Ballet 422 and it was about the creation of a ballet and a choreographer called Justin Beck and when Benjamin arrived in Paris he wanted someone to make a movie about his future creation, so someone from his team called us to come and meet Benjamin and that’s how it started.
BH I noticed this film is rather cinematic in comparison to most documentaries. What did you do to create this?
AT We went about making the film cinematic through a countdown beginning from when he was creating the music and going through every step up to the premier that helps give this cinematic aspect to the film.
BH Recently in the UK, we’ve been getting satellite broadcasts of theatre, opera, ballet etc. into cinemas. Do you see this as a future for cinema?
TD It’s not our job to say but the ballet itself was transmitted but we don’t really have any opinions on that. That’s not really our thing.
BH Did you have any interest in ballet before you started the film?
AT Not at all but a few years ago we made a documentary about a French soccer player and we didn’t have any interest in soccer. In fact, we think that when you’re an expert, you do “expert movies” and it’s always worrying because you’re doing them for an expert audience. But the fact that we don’t have any notion of ballet is a strength not a weakness.
BH Do you have any interest in it now?
AT Yes. [laughs]
BH One of the things I noticed was that often in films choreographers are presented as hard and demanding but I didn’t get that from Benjamin. He seemed warm and open. Did that surprise you?
AT Surprise, no, because we didn’t know him before but he is like this; he’s not someone with any anger. His way to manage, is like how we’ve shown in the documentary. He’s very quiet. It’s another way to manage people.
TD He doesn’t believe in hierarchies. This kind of power from the top. He believes in breaking the system so that each person can find what they’re good at.
TD Yes. When someone says “giving them their chance”, we can’t exactly talk about egalitarianism because there’s still different skills, different levels to be taken into account, but there is the kind of sense of breaking this system of uniformity that existed before.
BH I’m, uh, not sure how much information you’re allowed to give on this but can you tell us about your upcoming film, Rocco?
TD So we’ve approached pornography like we approached classical dance, not experts. Hardcore porn actors usually only have a seven year career and he’s had a thirty year career and we wanted know how his addiction to sex has lasted such a long time. So in different ways, it’s a film about the life of Rocco Seffriedi, it’s an exploration of the world of hardcore porn and it’s also looking at his final scene as a hardcore porn actor.
AT And Rocco, the movie, is as dark as Reset is light.
Reset is currently awaiting a UK release date. Check out the trailer below.