The indiscreet charm of the bourgeoisie

Parisian filmmaker Cécile Fontaine is one of the most original and unique artists at this year’s Avanto festival. During a career spanning nearly two decades, she has created surrealistic collage films which combine the authoritarian rhetoric of educational films with the expressionist tradition of hand-painted films and an aesthetics of destruction.

Fontaine finds the subjects for her films in typical middle class fantasies. Cruises is set in the world of sailing, with the idea of freedom out at sea. Boy’s Best Friend is an alchemistic vision of the neighbor’s joyful, furry pet. Safari Land portrays a dream vacation in Africa, “the perfect safari.” Golfentretien is an elementary course to the aesthetic peculiarities of the hole-in-one. Overeating features one crystallization of our time: a middle-aged man feasting on food, a chicken leg in his hand. Brought together, these films form an unusual chronicle of the fantasies and obsessions of the bourgeoisie at the turn of the millennium.

Fontaine’s approach is mercilessly satirical, but warm nevertheless. Her protagonists are sympathetic half-wits, who always seem to reach for the excessive. In her films, Fontaine uses methods familiar from collage art and graffiti: rough physical manipulation and concrete carving of the film emulsion. Frames of found footage are given new forms and meanings with bleach and ammonium treatments. The editing rhythm of Fontaine’s films is so rapid and they are filled with such a massive amount of information that they make one wish to see them again immediately.

Cécile Fontaine has created approximately 70 films. In 1991, she founded a women’s art collective called Dissolution/Six Solutions with five of her colleagues. The director will personally introduce the screenings of her films in Avanto, and will also take questions from the audience.


Home Movie (1986, 5 min)
Histoires parallèlles (1990, 11 min)
Japon series (1991, 7 min)
Golf-entretien (1984, 3 min)
Overeating (1984, 3 min)
Cruises (1989, 10 min)
Safari Land (1996, 10 min)
Boy’s Best Friend (2002, 14 min)
Spaced Oddities (2004, 4 min)
Duration: 77 minutes. 16mm.

Cécile Fontaine: Histoires parallèles – Alternative Histories will be screened in the Kiasma Theatre on Saturday, November 20th at 18.30.

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