From Prénovel to Chaux-des-Prés in the Jura department, the news quickly spread: Jean-François Stévenin (Pocket money, The Pact of the Wolves…) is not anymore. In the valley, everyone is a bit of an orphan. Because the actor and director had kept a very strong bond with the locals, he often returned to his land near Lons-Le-Saunier where he was born in 1944.
“When he came to his house, he came to the grocery store. Funny thing, I didn’t know he was sick, he didn’t tell us, testifies Céline Masse, manager of the small grocery store at the Chaux-des-Prés school. When he came here, he was so happy, he chatted, he took his pictures. It’s funny anyway “, she repeats visibly moved.
In the village, his memory is everywhere you look. Behind the food in the grocery store, for example, hide the walls of the old school, one of those impromptu sets that he goes through with Jacques Villeret, his accomplice in Mountain pass, one of three films the actor has directed. The story of a Parisian architect whose Mercedes breaks down in the heart of Haut-Jura. An improbable road movie, steeped in encounters and blessed luck.
François Piard said Fred, a friend of the filmmaker, had lent his little chalet in Prénovel for the shooting. It was in 1977. “He did miles of film, remembers the retiree who, like two of his brothers, starred in the film that year. He always waited until we were a little warm before starting to shoot. And when he saw that it was about the time, hop, tac, on the way. It’s really natural as they say. ”
Nothing written, all in improvisation. Even the late night argument. It was like that. The film crew made with the means at hand, an authenticity that shapes cult films. Interviewed on the set, Jean-François Stévenin admitted that at the time, the project was risky: “We know less and less why films don’t work. When it’s a first film and it’s a script that I wrote myself, it poses a lot of risks on one person. not many people willing to take them. The whole movie is kind of a gamble. ”
I said this film, we’ll never see it, given the conditions and the finances. We haven’t seen any rushes, nothing.François Piard said Fred
friend of Jean-François Stévenin
Mountain pass was finally selected in Cannes and Fred even went to the Croisette with his wife. “I signed an autograph”, he says with pride.
During the shooting, Jean-François Stévenin bought a house in Grande Rivière, his seasonal refuge. He was due to come back this summer.