In this documentary, the life and works of French filmmaker Jean Rollin is explored through interviews with contemporaries, film experts, and people who were close to him. Through scenes from his films, photos of life, and these interviews, viewers get to know the man and what inspired him.
Written and directed by Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger, the documentary here is clearly very well researched in both the information it brings to the screen and who it has speaking on camera. For those who watch a lot of this type of documentary, a few of the faces will be familiar as they have appeared in a few other documentaries in the last few years. However, quite a few of the people here are folks who were involved in making films with Rollin and who were in Rollin’s life, so new faces, new opinions, and a closeness to the subject are shown here.
The film itself is incredibly well shot and brought together. The cinematography by Cedric Fontana, Ray C. Lloyd, and Jonathan Zaurin, mixed with the editing by Dima Ballin create an intimate view on the man and his work. The addition of scenes from his films when some people are being interviewed and while a narrator speaks is done in a way that feels organic. The narrator however seems to have a few issues with some of the French names and titles, something that comes of a bit odd considering the subject at hand. Besides this small issue, the narration overall is well-done and doesn’t take away from the rest of the film. Their tone is almost relaxing and lulling the viewer into comfort while watching the film. The way this brings everything together is fantastic.
One small downside to this documentary is that it does end up feeling a bit long. It’s not entirely bad, simply that it needs to be watched while fully awake and fully paying attention. This film as a whole is rather quiet, from the interviewees being very professional and poised to the narration being so comforting, this adds up with the cinematography and editing to make it the most chill documentary with the most information in there. The film is easy watching which can be both good and bad in a sense that it can lull you into losing track. For those who tend to do this with films or documentary, it could be a problem. However, the information and the quality of the delivery make this one that is important to fully pay attention to.
Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin is a strong, yet quiet documentary clearly made with a passionate interest in Jean Rollin and his films. The tone of the documentary and its mood feel perfect for the subject and mix well with the scenes and sequences from his films. This is not a flashy documentary, but rather one that is like a nice embrace of its subject.
Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 runs from July 14th to August 3rd, 2022