It’s February 14th, the third night of the 6th edition of the FAME Film Festival. Each year FAME offers an edgy selection of music-related feature films, documentaries, and experimental movies ranging from portraits of musicians and labels, to musical trends, biopics and visual experiments. The excited crowd is waiting in long lines in front of the Gaité Lyrique, a multidisciplinary cultural venue devoted to arts and technologies, located in central Paris. This institution has welcomed numerous events in the arts, both large and small, for 158 years, including prestigious ballets and circus schools. On this night the rooms are packed with cheerful roaring voices as guests wander and mingle amid the dim lights and vivid colors displayed throughout the space. The DJs begin to play exciting electronic music as the visitors head into the screening room, eager to see the documentary Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over, directed by Beth B. Before the film starts, the film’s director, Beth B, known for her years of work in avant-garde No Wave cinema, and the film’s ‘rock star’ Lydia Lunch, are brought onstage by Olivier Forest, co-founder and co-curator of the FAME Film Festival, along with Benoît Hické. Introductions are given and naturally, Lydia charms the audience with her humorous sarcasm and ‘spunk.’
The 75-minute documentary tells the life story of Lydia Lunch, a musician who blossomed during the No Wave movement that originated in New York City during the 1970s, featuring avant garde music and art,. The film explores Lydia’s career but also tackles major issues relating to misogyny, sexual harassment, poverty, imbalances of power, and how Lydia’s music and creativity gave her a sense of freedom to preserve in the face of setbacks. The audience cheers and claps with joy as the film ends. Beth B, Lydia Lunch, and Olivier Forest make their way onto the stage for a question and answer session. Lydia keeps the audience entertained as she responds to numerous questions with her wit and easygoing demeanor. Someone asks Lunch a question: “Did you ever in your life feel powerless?”
“Some people, when they come out of trauma, not most…flatline. So there’s a lot of human emotions I’ve never felt. Feeling powerless, fear, insecurity, jealousy, these are all imposed emotions that we were not born with, but that were placed on us by people with other inadequacies like our parents. So when I say I had to ‘deprogram’ myself and become my own lover, you have to all love yourselves. If any of you could love yourselves as much as I do, we’d all be having a fucking orgy.”
One thing is certain, Ms. Lydia Lunch shows no fear of expressing her true self or honest opinions. She’s loud, raw, and very straightforward. If you are in the same room as Lydia, you are certain to remember her message, which is also true for her work, as she expresses her personal feelings and stories through her music. As an artist, Lydia inspires people to help change the system, one that does not benefit people from all walks of life.
Lydia’s collaboration with the director and musician Beth B offers creativity and a powerful message to the public. They’re a powerful force and worth listening to, especially for a younger generation of artists and creators that have the potential to initiate actual change. Lydia is asked one more question as she walks off the stage after the talk: “What should our generation of artists be making”. Lydia’s reply comes fast and certain: “Architecture, really!”
After the screening, everyone returns to the main room, entering the galaxy of colorful, vibrant lights and electronic music of the surrounding space, as visitors await the next event. Mr. Olivier Forest has a busy night ahead of him, and accepts a short interview before returning to work.
Did this year’s festival bring any surprises?
“Yes, this festival brought some surprises, and some were bad. For example, we had two films that were cancelled because of conflict surrounding music rights between artists and label owners. It has nothing to do with our festival, and this is the first time it has happened. We had already sold tickets and announced the screenings to the press, and then the films got cancelled, so that was a bad surprise. A good surprise is that people showed up again. It’s still crowded, and the screening rooms are packed. People look happy, and that’s what we work for, but it’s still a surprise, a very good surprise.”
Were you anticipating any particular age group for the Film Festival?
“Not really. We try to go through every musical genre, generation, and country. That’s kind of what FAME does, mixing and matching different generations and kinds of music. I like to have different generations in the same screening room. Of course, when we screen Lydia Lunch, it’s a generation from the 70s, it’s a little older. When we screen Synth-wave and things like that, it’s kind of a younger generation. FAME is a place that is always very inclusive. Anybody can show up. Even if you’re an old rock and roll guy, you can come here with young hipsters.”
Did you come from a musical background? Were you interested in music when you were a child?
“Yes I was. Actually I played the guitar in a band for a few years and I had this double passion for music and movies. I had something for movies about music, that’s how I ended up doing FAME, because I wanted to fuse my two passions. Yes, I do have a musical background, and I think it is important in what I do. We’re a “movie-festival” of course, but one that is about music. We always have to keep some of the energy from the music.”
It’s obvious that it takes a lot of preparation and dedication to keep the FAME Film Festival running. Though it may seem glamorous and flawless to an outsider, managing a large event like FAME can involve challenging ‘surprises’. Yet this will never stop the energy and efficiency of the event, an energy that is familiar to anyone who has attended the FAME Film Festival.