Prix Jean Vigo 1986 for "Maine Océan", René Clair Prize 1997 for all of his work, Carrosse d'or 2002 in Cannes, he directed "Adieu Philippine" (1962), "Du côté d'Orouët" (1973) and "Les Naufragés de l'île de la Tortue" (1976).
Four films in more than half a century... He shot two others, "Fifi martingale" (2001), never released in theaters, and "Le perroquet parisien" (2007), which remained unfinished.
Anar with a tender heart, lover of side roads, director sometimes uncontrollable, sometimes as a dilettante, but also obsessive researcher of the right image, he has also shot about twenty short films, often noticed, and worked for television.
In 2019, Jean-Luc Godard (who has since died) hailed the trace left by Jacques Rozier in French cinema: "When Agnès Varda died, I thought: the real New Wave, we are only two. Me and (...) Jacques Rozier who started a little before me".
The New Wave movement, born in the late 1950s, intended to break with classical cinematographic techniques in favor of experimentation and an individualistic, even iconoclastic approach. In addition to Jacques Rozier, his most emblematic figures are Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy and Eric Rohmer.
"Of the filmmakers of the New Wave, Rozier is the one who rambles. The one who likes everything to go wrong, to better feed his very particular sense of dramaturgy (...)", greeted the Cinémathèque française at the announcement of his death.
He was born on November 10, 1926 in Paris. Graduated from IDHEC (the film school that became the Fémis) in 1947, he was assistant to Jean Renoir for "French Cancan" (1955), directed short films such as "Paparazzi" and "Le Parti des choses" (both in 1963) behind the scenes of the shooting of Godard's "Contempt".
In 1962, he released his first feature film, "Adieu Philippine". A bittersweet chronicle of French youth, against the backdrop of the Algerian war, it became one of the flagship films of the New Wave.
François Truffaut and Godard supported him. Yet it has little success. Same fate for the next film, eleven years later, "Du côté d'Orouët", story (filmed in 16 mm initially) of a middle-class family on vacation.
Jacques Rozier called on Pierre Richard, then star of French cinema, to play in "Les Naufragés de l'île de la Tortue". The film works a little better.
French filmmaker Jacques Rozier during the Venice Film Festival, September 2001 © Gabriel BOUYS / AFP/Archives
We find his humor tinged with cynicism and a taste for dreamlike atmospheres. It tells the story of two employees of a travel agency who launch a new Robinson Crusoe tourism concept. In the end, it's a fiasco...
"Maine Océan" (1985) recounts the journey, or rather the pataphysical trip in the west of the France of wacky characters: a Brazilian singer, two train controllers (Bernard Menez and Luis Rego), a hysterical lawyer and an irascible sailor-fisherman.
Your films "have the false lightness, the freshness that we only find in the first films (...). All your films look like first films", said in 2019 the young filmmaker Guillaume Brac during a meeting organized by Télérama with the old master.
"The French directors who follow in your footsteps, I am thinking of Sophie Letourneur, Justine Triet and myself, have in common to have written and shot their first film in a few weeks, with a rarely complete script, extremely limited funding. Conditions that go against the current norm where writing can take years," he added.
To which Jacques Rozier, still lively despite his age, had replied: "As soon as I hear someone tell me that he has been refining his script for two years, I want to tell him to keep it for himself. Cinema is about risk and desire. Like love."
© 2023 AFP