Striptease , the issuance of the franco-belgian ufo’s of public service from 1985 to 2012, and has influenced generations by his exuberance. Around 850 episodes shot in direct cinema, the program has allowed them to discover the portraits of people atypical. The labourer and his children, Dr. Lulu, Mr. Mayor, Hold on thy right hand, … These films of twenty minutes, turned by the 130 directors, are all heterogeneous.
“Strip-Tease undresses”, book of Marco Lamensch. Ed. Chronic
Jean Libon and Marco Lamensch are the creators of Striptease . The director and the journalist, the belgians were able to convince the public service, RTBF1, and then Canal+ in France, to collaborate with them. Six years after the end of the show, Marco Lamensch decided to return to the scenes of the production through her book Strip Tease undresses (published by Chronicle).
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At the age of 68, he remembers his best, as his worst memories. It highlights the stories that have marked failures which have forged, the success of which he is proud, but also pays homage to all those who have helped to Striptease to prosper. A book kaleidoscope, with a preface by Philippe Geluck, to devour with a smile.
LE FIGARO.- After 850 movies and six years of absence, why have you decided to entrust to you in this book?
Marco LAMENSCH. – We try to think about things while they were being done, but it takes a time lag to immerse yourself in it. I had already written two-three texts, there is a fifteen years, to fix a few of my ideas. I left the show in 2005, so I have a look a little bit distanced and I can think of a number of issues.
warning, you explain that your goal is not to respond to the criticisms made on the issue. Why?
When I say that I don’t want to respond to the criticisms, it is to the extent that they have not been formulated in a structured manner. I quote an example: at the moment I asked for a commission in Belgium a letter for a film that had nothing to do with Striptease , I was refused on the ground (obviously not official) that I was the gravedigger of the documentary. But these criticisms have never been made to the front and assumed.
At the time when he took the film Nor judge, nor subject , my friends Jean Libon and Yves Hinant, an article appeared in the newspaper La Libre Belgique . The president of the union of judges said that the film did not reflect what was actually their work. As there was a critical well-founded, justified and explained on two pages, I have taken the time and care to make a response explaining that they were our methods, our ambitions, and our limits too.
“When I say that I don’t want to respond to the criticisms, it is to the extent that they have not been formulated in a structured way”
Contrary to what has often been said, the films Striptease are all very different. There are some common points: a minimum of interviews, no comments… apart from that, they can be soft, sometimes squeaky-according to the director, slow, fast, there are things that are totally varied.
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With Or judge, or subject , you have adapted Striptease to the cinema. Was this a long-term aim?
No. I left the show in 2005 and it was completed in 2012. I think that the tv and the relationship with the public had changed dramatically in the meantime. When we arrived in 1985 in Belgium, we went in among the people, was a situation which seemed to us interesting and we tried to explain to them how their life, that necessarily of them appeared to be trivial, had the potential to be of interest to other people. Because they belonged to a different social milieu, to a different age group or another region.
At the time, we never had to sign anything. One clasped his hand as peasants. I have to say that on the 850 movies, there are still very few people who complained they had been a child in the back. It is sometimes other people who, putting himself in their place, saying, “look at that one, it was ridiculed”. The people filmed responded: “not at all, I’m like that.” When we say that someone is caricatured, it is more often a judgment that one wears oneself.
How did you select the stories highlighted in your book?
there are thirty chapters, of which two-three devoted to the story behind Striptease . We are not inventing ever totally something. I just went to see the exhibition on cubism at the centre Pompidou, this is not all of a sudden that Braque and Picasso were put at a table and say: “We are going to invent cubism.” You can see the evolution behind the movement.
I do not compare to Picasso, of course (laughter). What I mean by this is that I first explained who are the ancestors of the direct cinema: the Canadians. The movement grew with the birth of cameras and standalone recorders. We could walk them, bring them to the top of mount Everest or at the bottom of a mine.
“If this does not allow for a real statistical analysis, it allowed at least to show the diversity of the society”
then there are chapters dedicated to topics that we discussed, as the far right, the old or the peasants. There was a total diversity of approach to things. On Islam, it has as well been people apparently fundamentalists and other more open. If this does not allow for a real statistical analysis, it allowed at least to show the diversity of the company. There was never any preconceived ideas or on what we are going to have or what we will do. Each director presented a topic and told us how it could be interesting. And then, this is the cinema of the real. It is sometimes the things that they did not expect at all.
Strip Tease “momma”
What films you have particularly marked, for better and for worse?
Photo extracted from the film “Martha”. “Striptease”
I could mention twenty! Fifty even! In very different styles. Martha , for exampleple, is a film of slow, of humanity, of beauty… and almost without a word. This goes against the idea of Striptease which would only laugh and shout. During the quarter of an hour-long film, where we discover this lady of 93 years old in a retirement home, if there are ten words that are exchanged it’s a lot.
You think your book is a tribute to the public service?
Yes! Do Striptease asked for a freedom to organize his work and especially the time (the only wealth of the issuance). Go do a story in the Champagne pouilleuse is less expensive than going to the bottom of the China. But the actually go there for ten days with a cameraman and a soundman, it’s still expensive.
When I say public service, I can also think of the Channel + the great time, which allowed things like that. And I also wanted to pay homage to all of these 130 directors, cameramen, soundmen and editors who have worked with us.
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And what is Jean Libon thought of the book?
Jean Libon, which is rather stingy with compliments, has found it to be very good (laughter). He is not mistreated in the book either, so there is no reason why he may be angry. I tried to tell some of the things we had missed, or mistakes that we could commit. In trying to do so, to the end of the year, a book that is a bit of a festival book. It is well-formatted, there are moments of funny, as all our history, with Jean-Claude Van Damme. So we can open it up a little at random and stitch stories. The show Striptease wanted to treat the society in the manner of a kaleidoscope ; I am told that the book was to be like him.