Not long back from a couple of weeks directing a film in Paris. The project is the brain child of my old and dear friend and colleague Steve Palmer. Steve and I wrote and performed on The Great Eastern and related undertakings. Steve’s now a Professor at the University of Windsor with a special interest in the History of Medicine.
During research into the Man and His Health pavilion at Expo ’67 Steve discovered a lost and, at the time, lauded film used as part of that exhibition. It was directed by the Belgian/French/American film and theater director/poet/actor Robert Cordier. Steve learned that Cordier at 82 years of age was alive and working in Paris.
Cordier is 20th century art personified. He knew Jean Genet and Orson Welles. He was a friend and collaborator with the likes of Alan Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Ava Gardner, James Baldwin and Salvador Dali. The associations are too many to list.
Cordier wasn’t interested in another conventional documentary about his life and Palmer was only too happy to oblige; planning something about Cordier and larger themes relating to art, wellness and, in the context of Expo ’67, the subsequent efforts by the forces of neoliberalism to destroy what was built by Pearsonian liberalism all wrapped up in a meta-narrative about the making of the Cordier movie itself.
Too ambitious? Utterly mad? Both, surely.
I’ve witnessed Steve pull off such narrative acrobatics before so he can do it.
And the shoot went better than anyone could have dreamed. The operating director of photography Enrico Giordano proved to be an ace, the interview subjects were witty and wise, the ground team led by the writer Christopher Mooney were heroic and Paris did its best-city-in-the-world act, turning sunny during a normally grey season, acting sexy, being smart. Even the one gendarme the production collided with was gracious and accommodating. Cordier was brilliant. Steve returns to North America with many hours of wonderful footage.
The edit will be daunting but my friend is off to a terrific start.