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Cheng Xiaoxing

The Fresnoy school of dreams

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- The day-to-day operations at the legendary Lille-based experimental film school described by a former student who went on to become assistant to Tsiai Ming Liang

Cheng Xiaoxing

The programme of Pesaro's 39th International Festival of New Cinema includes an overview of the work of one of France’s most celebrated experimental filmmakers. Right from the get-go the Pesaro audience was given the opportunity to understand the huge difference that exists between the production of experimental and avant-garde films.
An example of this are the films produced by the Fresnoy studio of contemporary arts, headed up by Alain Fleischer. Situated in Lille, the Fresnoy is specialised in teaching people about every aspect of this audiovisual sector.
One of this year’s special guests at Pesaro is Cheung Xiaoxing who presented his Le destinataire. This Fresnoy graduate went on to become assistant to both Fleischer and Tsiai Ming Liang (Vive l’amour and The Hole). We asked him to describe what the Fresnoy is all about.

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What does one study at the Fresnoy and how long do courses last?
"The Fresnoy is a school for experimental filmmakers where all barriers between the various artistic disciplines have been knocked down. There is complete freedom of expression both in terms of style and subject. The course lasts two years. During your first year you learn the technique of traditional film shooting and use film stock. In the second you begin to experiment and work with classic and innovative formats."

The Fresnoy is a cosmopolitan school. Who are the teachers?
"Given that students are allowed freedom to experiment, it follows that a variety of teaching methods are required. So teachers tend to work a rotating schedule. They include Jean Luc Godard although I could quote several other very famous names. Every year three nationally and internationally renowned artists are chosen. The twenty students selected to attend the Fresnoy work in close contact with these artists on their respective projects. To that end the school puts everything they might possibly need at their disposal. There is no doubt that freedom of expression and the constant turnover of the teaching staff enrich the school’s production. I must also add that although it is a "national school", the Fresnoy is an international and cosmopolitan school: one third of its students come from non-European countries. "

What happens to the films they make?
"The Fresnoy teaches production and distribution. All the completed works are exhibited in the summer. They then tour a number of countries. In recent years we have gained a high international profile and our works are seen all over the world. "

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