|Balsan (right) in Bresson's Lancelot Du Lac (1974)|
The more you read about cinema the more you learn about the great & selfless things that sometimes go on behind the scenes. The movie industry is obviously known for being cut throat & shady but there are some great little behind the scenes stories that many people don't know about like; Wim Wenders giving Jim Jarmusch film so he could make Stranger Than Paradise in to a feature length film, Monty Montgomery (the cowboy in Mulholland Drive) downplaying his role in the creation of Twin Peaks, John Cassavetes setting up a meeting with Gordon Parks and some movie executives so Parks could make The Learning Tree (Cassavetes never took credit for helping Parks get his foot in the door) or Shirley Clarke lending John Cassavetes her camera equipment so he could make his first film. The event's in Humbert Balsan's life were not that much different than the examples I just gave you. Movie producers sometimes get a bad wrap as being money hungry control freaks without any understanding about the art of cinema. You hear horror stories of producers re-editing films behind a directors back or screwing people over for money but you don't always hear about the Ted Hopes, Bingham Rays & Humbert Balsans.
That's the beauty about the main character in this film - Hes a movie producer with integrity who actually loves cinema and isn't just in it for the money.
Balsan apparently suffered from depression and I'm sure his production company going under didn't help things. His life makes you think of so many struggling independent artists (not just in film) who give so much of themselves to their craft and get nothing or very little in return. That could drain someone after a while and make them wanna give up. You start to question what you do and wonder if you're putting all this energy in to something for nothing. Imagine if you were in Humbert Balsan's shoes - you've been a movie producer for 25 years and all you have to show for is bankruptcy and a failing production company. That's enough to make anyone depressed. It goes without saying that quite a few art house, foreign & indie filmmakers come from wealthy families so weather or not their films make money is irrelevant. But there are those struggling filmmakers out there who do need to make a living off of a craft they love that may not be "profitable" or interesting to mainstream audiences (like many of the films Balsan produced). I don't know about you all but its pretty damn heartbreaking when a talented artist cant make a living off of what their good at.
|Real life father & daughter (Louis & Alice Lencqueasing) in The Father Of My Children|
Much like Scarlet Diva, The Father Of My Children is yet another film that shares a spiritual connection with Bernard Rose's brilliant Ivan's XTC (both films are personal, semi-autobiographical stories about key background figures in the movie industry that pushed themselves too hard who die sad deaths long before their time). I don't care how many times I've mentioned this film - I'm gonna find an audience for it and get it rediscovered if its the last thing I do!
The Father Of My Children isn't just strictly a love letter/dedication to Humbert Balsan. Its about the importance of family, coming of age, the beauty of film as well as the bumps and other legal issues that go into the filmmaking process that people don't often think about.