Janine Bertrand, figure of film clubs, is dead

The cinema would undoubtedly never have become a culture in its own right without the reserve army of those who fought for its distribution: its indefatigable “smugglers”, as the critic Serge Daney called them and as Janine Bertrand was in the noble sense. , died on October 18, at the age of 93, from a neurological disease. She was a key figure in the film club movement, which took off tremendously during the post-war period, participating in the great popular education movement driven by the Liberation. Until her death, she managed the federation of Inter Film film clubs, and contributed to the circulation of masterpieces of the past, as well as to the memory of great authors and to the programming of promising young filmmakers, thus shielded from the vagaries and obsolescence of the market.

Attentive to contemporary creation, it supports films by Jean Eustache, Jean-Daniel Pollet, François Truffaut or Chris Marker

Born “Périllat” in 1928 in Paris, the young Janine Bertrand joined at the age of 20, at the Lycée Voltaire, the preparatory class for the Idhec competition, the former name of La Fémis. She was taught there by a professor who would exert a decisive influence on generations of young cinephiles: Henri Agel (1911-2008). Well on the way to integrating the image and sound professions, the young woman is reorienting herself along the way towards the other end of the sector, namely the distribution and reception of films, with the concern of accompanying them to- beyond their commercial exploitation. Renouncing Idhec, she joined the largest federation of film clubs of the time, the FFCC (French Federation of film clubs), of Communist obedience, where other groups were more of a religious tradition, i.e. Catholic or Protestant. She then migrated to the “youth” branch (FFCCJ), with the idea of ​​training new generations of spectators.

Crazy administrator

Alongside Jean Michel, professor of literature, pioneer of youth film clubs and founder of one of the most innovative of them in Valence (Drôme), conceived in his own words as a small people’s republic , it faces the outcry of distributors who, during the boom years of the federations, viewed with a very negative eye this alternative network circulating films outside the commercial box office.

In 1960, Janine Bertrand founded the Parisian federation Inter Film, one of the few to still exist today. It shows the films of Jean Vigo, Jean Grémillon, Jacques Tati, Pierre Etaix, prospecting for distant cinematographies, such as those of the Bengali Indian Satyajit Ray or the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Attentive to contemporary creation, it supports films by Jean Eustache, Jean-Daniel Pollet, François Truffaut or Chris Marker, and makes artists accessible to the public by inviting them to lead courses or workshops. She was the close friend of Luchino Visconti, whom she visited on the set of The Stranger (1967) or Violence and Passion (1974), but also by Patrice Chéreau. A frenzied administrator, she also wrote with a fine and erudite pen the support materials for the films in the catalog. She sat for fifteen years on the board of directors of the Cinémathèque française, and even contributed to the rediscovery of a major film considered lost (Bessie on Broadway, 1928, the last silent by Frank Capra, found in a stock bought from a fairground).

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