Sunday, 25 October 2009


Article originally published in The Pictures Issue 2

“I’m afraid I don’t consider myself a filmmaker, or anything specific for that matter.” Parisian Angélique Bosio does not like being tied to labels. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, she made one of our favourite documentaries of the past few years. Llik Your Idols tells the story of the Cinema of Transgression, a moment in New York time when artists like Richard Kern, Nick Zedd and Lydia Lunch came together to form a loose movement of extreme filmmakers, their work inspired by poverty, nihilism, sex and drugs. At the heart of the film are a series of interviews with the main protagonists of the scene in which they paint a vivid portrait of their lives and loves in squalor and talk openly about that fertile period when some of the most shocking, gruesome and salacious scenes ever seen in underground film were committed to Super 8. Angélique’s open, almost naïve interview technique allows her subjects the ability to reminisce freely and undirected where a more experienced and routined filmmaker may have prompted the opposite effect.

“To be honest, I started work in the cinema abut 10 years ago now,” explains the quiet, unassuming young réalisatrice, “because I knew what I did not want to do – namely to work in music labels, publishing companies, galleries, banks etc. I didn’t know a thing about cinema, or not enough, therefore I felt absolutely free.” But if making Llik Your Idols was a labour of freedom, it was a far from easy process. She worked on it in what little time remained outside of what she calls her “official job” for the best part of 5 years in a production process fraught with difficulties.

“I started in the summer of 2002 and finished it in July 2007, then it ran festivals. The whole thing started quickly. I decided to work on the project in the spring of 2002, wrote a few e-mails, got a few answers, booked some tickets. I wasn’t even sure I was to meet with these people with I booked the tickets, it had to happen, that’s all. Then I got lucky, somebody gave me 1000 Euros and I went to New York in August.”

Angélique flew to New York and conducted the official interviews, getting on with her subjects “quite well” and returning over the following years to revisit, ask more questions, or interview new subjects, slowly but surely completing the jigsaw of the finished film. She befriended Jack Sargeant, author of Deathtripping, the Creation Cinema book about the scene, and modelled for Richard Kern. But as the project grew, funding became an issue, and it was here that the difficulties began.

photo by richard kern

“I tried to work with different production companies that would stop the shooting, waiting for financial support from a French TV channel, which never came of course. So I would alternate periods of shooting and periods of waiting, patiently.” Production continued on blind faith, and editing commenced in 2006 “at home with Aurelie Cauchy. Then another production company, and the editing was stopped.” The stop-start production process was almost enough to curtail the project altogether, but again naïve optimism won through and the film was eventually finished in 2007, “with people I’d rather not talk about,” That wasn’t all. Even with a completed project to hand, securing a release proved difficult - “a production company tried to block everything and it was a mess for another whole year.”

Finally in late 2007 the film hit festivals, and now, two years later, the DVD is available in several territories, with the European edition available October 20th, a welcome pay-off for Angélique, and one that more than compensates for the time and finance put in. “I will never earn any money out of this documentary,” she says, “on the contrary, I have lost some. But I had to do it anyway. I was not motivated by money, I really needed to create something. I never hoped that I would sell it.”

The finished film has proved a deserving hit with critics and the audience it has so far found, owing in part to its openness and accessibility, and has achieved another of its aims (that it has in common with this zine), to bring these works to new audiences. Unlike many documentaries on the subject of underground film, which are often abstracted to the point of being avant garde themselves, Llik Your Idols needs no foreknowledge. “I hope I don’t make films for myself,” she says. “I have tried to make Llik Your Idols a documentary that could interest people who wouldn’t know a thing about this scene. The idea is to spread the word.”

It’s an attitude in the film that chimes with Angélique’s overall outlook towards the creative process, particularly when coming up against production obstacles or negotiating such dark subject matter, as she did in this documentary and her upcoming portrait of Bruce LaBruce. She approaches her work and stays motivated by “being stupid, dreamy and pretending to be naïve…do I sound like Cinderella?” As seen in Llik Your Idols, this naïve, questioning, curious presence wading through stories of bondage, torture and hard drug abuse is more Lewis Carroll’s Alice. You get the sense that this kind of investigation, of involvement, is why she prefers documentary to fiction.

“I don’t think fiction is a natural penchant of mine,” she confirms. “I have had one single valid idea for a short film but gave up too easily when told there was a feature film doing the same thing already. Documentary, [though], allows me to work with music, play with the edit, travel, get into funny situations, meet some people. I can be the control freak I truly am and follow the tide at the same time.”

Angel’s investigations are about to yield two more documentary features, partly the result of a productive (in total contrast to her past experience) partnership with independent producers and distributors Le Chat Qui Fume – “amazing people to work with” – who have given her as free a reign as possible in their production. The first chronicles the work of controversial gay porn-art filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, and the second follows French designer lingerie icon Fifi Chachnil.

“I would like to spend more time trying to learn photography after I have finished them I think,” referring again to her reluctance to be any one thing for long. You suspect though that, even in a different medium, Angélique’s inquisitive world view will shine through. Any investigation is about making connections, and Angélique’s films to date show this particularly, her subjects as pieces of a large and slowly emerging picture. Richard Kern or Fifi Chachnil, “to me there’s a link between all these people.” In the five years of making Llik Your Idols, she proved she has the patience and the curiosity to never stop looking.


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