"Anybody who ever used a camera knows that the photographer is always present as a reflection in his own subject matter. A reflection that reveals itself in the framing, the direction and the actors' reactions to the direction. But above all in the choice of subject matter."
"Out of a thousand possible filmic moments we always choose the moment that mirrors our own life as well. Because that moment we recognise." – Jon Bang Carlsen
So says Jon Bang Carlsen, a grand old man of Danish auteur documentary filmmaking and a champion of genre-blending methods that question conventional notions of reality and truth.
In Déjà Vu, the director joins clips from his more than 40 films together into a personal tale with a point of origin in an event that took place in the director's rural childhood home. When Carlsen was baptised, his father gave him a small painting of Jesus and hung it over his bed. Every night before he went to sleep, little Jon would pray to the man on the cross to look after his family. When his father suddenly left his family anyway, Carlsen in desperation burned out the eyes of Jesus with a red-hot poker.
Ever since, the director says, he has travelled the world with his camera, looking to make amends. Déjà Vu is the story of that journey – from the carefree summers of his early childhood until his father's disappearance and his ensuing doubts about faith and love. By weaving individual scenes from his many films, documentaries as well as fiction films, into a brand new story about trying to find a meaningful way through life, Jon Bang Carlsen looks backwards in order to focus on the future. As the director says:
DEJA VU Photo: Niels Vest
"Out of a thousand possible filmic moments we always choose the one that mirrors our own life as well. Because we recognise that moment. All the thousands of shots I have made while hiding behind the camera tell about various characters in various landscapes, but at the same time these thousands of filmic moments are illustrations in a moving picture book of my own life. A visual footprint in time."
Déjà Vu is selected for IDFA Masters and is produced by Jon Bang Carlsen and Marianne Christensen for C&C Productions.