Her words are a direct translation of who she is. There is no introduction needed, except to say that Zöe le Ber tells us, in her own words, who she is.
The background story..
I direct films and make pictures. Mainly shorts; but I am currently working on my first feature. Hopefully, it will exist one day. In the meantime, I am working on other short ones (art films, fictions, documentary, adverts for fashion). I am trying to live from my passion, which can be hard sometimes.
When did you first realize you wanted to tell stories through film?
I have always been obsessed by images. More precisely, I like to stage, to direct images so they look esthetically interesting. I am interested in being a silent witness of others’ lives, moving lives. I am constantly observing and then I write down what I’ve seen, I make it weirder, transforming the truth into invented Utopias that create scenes; Eventually giving way to stories.
Tell us about your latest project you are working on?
Last July as I was flying back to Paris, I bought a magazine at the airport. I read an article about the conditions of the Syrians refugees arriving on inflatable rafts on the island of Kos in Greece. I felt instantly that I had to go there to make a film about what I consider to be one of the most terrible human tragedies of our century and above all, to give them the a voice. Currently, we are de-rushing before starting the proper editing. It takes a lot of time because of the translation (Arabic to French to Greek).
I find women beautiful and even more beautiful naked. Men too, as much; but they are more difficult to convince to walk around denuded in Le Musée d’Orsay.
Would you say your work is a reference to your own life. Or is this more in sub-conscious?
I guess it is a mix of both, no? Maybe it is subconsciously a reference to my own life. But I hope there is more ‘in my own life’ that I haven’t expressed. What we call ‘the secret garden,’ which makes me think about this quotation of Michel Tournier, this would perhaps answer the question better than I could, “when we talk about garden, it is advisable to exceed the flat geometry to integrate the third dimension into our meditation.”
What is the hardest part about creating your own short film?
To decide if I want to do it totally by myself or with a production company. I am not patient. In one case, I can start to do it whenever I wish and not being dependent on someone else, but without money (which is as well a pain in the ass) and in the other case, everything takes forever but you have more financial means. Maybe this is a metaphor for my way of life. It is also difficult to tell a story in a short way- I always want to say more- you have to choose the details you want to focus on.
Hors les Murs; how were you able to pull this off in such public spaces?
It was pretty simple. One great thing about France is that ‘we don’t really give a shit’ about naked people in public spaces. It is forbidden but no one would arrest you or blame you for that. We had a lot of fun the couple of times we were caught. I will tell you one. One quiet day in June as we were shooting in the Hunting Museum, I was directing my favorite muse Lulu Barsotti while another friend, Charlotte, was making sure to distract the security officer in the next room. She was asking him a lot of questions so he would not come ian our way and I could shoot Lulu naked in peace. We were hearing them talking so we would know if they were far enough. All of the sudden, we heard him saying, “have you seen the great gorilla?” My friends nodded a no response. The security guard then said, “oh no! You’re missing the best piece of the museum! Follow me!” The Gorilla was just near Lulu naked as they were walking in our direction, her dress hidden somewhere, Charlotte couldn’t do anything to stop the officer’s excitement to show her the masterpiece. I jumped on Lulu’s dress, threw it at her face, she grabbed it as they were both entering the room. The security officer saw her totally naked, near the Gorilla, with her dress in her hands. He stopped abruptly, staring at her, and the first thing she said was “sorry, my dress was inside out.” He answered, “that’s quite alright” before introducing us to the great gorilla.
The naked body is the focus of this film, hidden away from public view. What is the purpose?
It is not the focus of this film actually. The purpose is the empty space. Hors les Murs means “Outside the Walls.” When you’re in an exhibition, you are walking in a labyrinth, following an unknown journey. Sometimes, there are some places where you’re not sure you’ll see an art piece or not. I could call them ‘the bastard spaces.’ I like those corners because they urge on your imagination and they are bearers of hope. Placing naked women here and there on the path was a way to interrogate the viewers or to surprise them in a primary sense.
What fascinates you most about the female naked body given it features so much in your work?
I want, and I am not the first one, to de-dramatize the idea we have about naked bodies. Women and men. We are all born naked, why are we so shocked by nudity? This is what we should wonder about, but to simply answer the question, I find women beautiful and even more beautiful naked. Men too, as much; but they are more difficult to convince to walk around denuded in Le Musée d’Orsay. This is a different kind of mystery.
In what direction do you hope to take your work?
My work is going into many different ways right now because I think I’m still young and I am experiencing all possibilities. I heard when you grow up the axe becomes narrower and somehow I’m scared of being too aware of the direction. Idealistically, I would like to make films and photographs that would have a certain impact on people’s minds. I don’t think you can make the world better but you can certainly make people think a little bit more.
I heard when you grow up the axe becomes narrower and somehow I’m scared of being too aware of the direction.