Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World of Jean Rollin @ Fantasia

A documentary about a French director who most have probably never heard of. On the other hand, Rollin is a very influential director in the world of genre filmmaking. Despite this, he is largely misunderstood. Dina Ballin and Kat Ellinger’s film is attempting to right that wrong. Here we get a clear picture of his film career which went from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Here in Quebec Rollin had a small but devoted cult following. That was because, unlike in his native France, all his films were released in theatres and then were released on VHS (back in the day). Rollin became so appreciated here in La Belle Province that the Fantasia film festival in 2007 awarded Jean Rollin a Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a child, after his parents divorced, Jean lived with his mother. Denise was an open-minded woman who had friends from among the intellectual elite in France at the time. She encouraged Jean when he indicated that he wanted to go into making films.

Coming from this background it should not come as a shock that Jean’s films were unlike anything out there. He separated himself from what was being made at this time (the 60s). But if you were to really look into the films and the man’s life then you would understand where his art came from. You could see how he was influenced by French Surrealists, the anarchist scene in France during the 60s and symbolist art.

Because making films takes money, Jean began focusing on making sex films because that is what he could get money for. What he really wanted to do was make horror films (he loved to make vampire films). Throughout his five decades in the film world, Jean Brillon continuously fought to gain the means to make the films he wanted to. He even used pseudonyms to make sex films in order to earn the money he needed to make his films.

Because he made sex films, much of the film world and critics really dismissed Jean and his films. They did not see there was more to the artist. Just believed him to be an exploiter or a pornography director.

Once Jean died in 2010 people began to look at his films with new eyes. The layers and heart in his films were revealed. How they were odes to Gothic tradition with plenty of social commentary lurking underneath the surface.

Here we see a side of the Jean Brillon story never really brought to light before. Most of us love things that fit into boxes. Things we can easily classify or label. That is not possible with Jean Brillon. There is plenty to the man and his films. It is all just waiting there to be discovered if you care to. Ballin and Ellinger supply you with interviews, film clips, photos, and voiceovers to build a more complete picture and then encourage you to watch his films to make up your own minds.

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