helle Toft Jensen’s Hotel of Dreams is the
tually divorced and after 25 years in Europe, Jeannot Jeannot has become more deeply Europeanised poignant story of a europeanised african re-
decided to return to Senegal as an entrepreneur and than he himself realises. He talks about his country- turning to the old country and ultimately redis-
men as strangers and his very appearance sets him covering his cultural roots.
The film tracks the construction of the hotel in apart from the people he wants to be taken in and this sleepy, Edenic village on the coast. Already in accepted by. “I lived in Belgium for 25 years. An Af- By niKolaJ manGURTen laSSen
the initial phases, conflicts emerge. Many people in rican feels very alone in Europe. But I feel very alone the village, not least the schoolteacher Karim and The title, Hotel of Dreams, precisely encapsulates the the council of elders, are sceptical about the big The outlook for Jeannot is grim. Bill collectors subject of Helle Toft Jensen’s documentary from construction project and the stranger, Jeannot, with are lining up outside his door. Then Birane, the local Senegal. After many years in Belgium, a middle-aged his European ways and “aloofness.” Jeannot pushes taxi driver, looks him up. Birane is naturally positive Senegalese man, Jean Marie da Sylva, known as Jean- ahead with his plans, regardless, even as the mo- about tourism and wants the hotel project to suc- not, returns to the village of Popenguine to build a ments when he sits staring into the dark, alone with ceed. He sets up a meeting between Jeannot and the hotel and bring tourists and prosperity to the small village council where they examine and verbalise Once the hotel is finished, however, the realities their cooperation problems. The parties move a step “I remember the first time I came to Popenguine,” for a modern hotel in this small town turn out to be closer together, sparking hope for the returning im- he says. “I guess I was around 10 years old. I had a far cry from Jeannot’s dreams. Attracting tourists is just lost my father. My mother was alive, but she exceedingly difficult and daily operation of the hotel Hotel of Dreams is a thought-provoking film was very poor.” The village made an impression on is a puzzle resisting easy solution. On top of every- – funny, serious and insightful. Jumping off from the impoverished boy, who left to seek his fortune thing come Jeannot’s personal troubles fitting in and the conflict between African and European, the film in Belgium when he was 17. He married and had a being accepted after two and a half decades in Bel- opens up a discussion of globalisation, raising issues child with a wealthy Belgian woman, but they even- gium. All his problems are connected.
Photo: Sonja Iskov
up to watch the film and I brought my son along, too, so it was a big event for everybody. Jeannot was introduced and in one fell swoop was established in everyone’s mind. The film and the dialogue we began with the shooting and rounded off with the public premiere have had a positive effect on the vil-lage. We got to tell their story, while we were also able to give something back to them. That means a lot to me as a filmmaker.” fUelleD By anGeR
You generally seem to get very emotionally engaged in
your story. How did you get into filmmaking?
“When I was young, I travelled around the world
and saw huge inequality, but also great power and
pride that impressed me. When I encountered the
Danish photographer Jacob Holdt’s American Pic-
, my partner and I decided that was the kind of
thing we wanted to do. But we wanted to seek out
Photo: Sonja Iskov
efforts to create a better world. That’s why we were LIVING DESPITE IT ALL
in Nicaragua when revolution broke out in 1979 and could report on events at close range, which resulted in Frit fædrelandeller dø (translates: Free Fatherland or Death.) It was my debut and it really broke through to the media world, laying The image of the Third World is infuriatingly
It was important for me to work with a small Sen- simplistic, helle Toft Jensen says. This docu-
egalese crew and shoot the whole thing over an ex- What’s the thread in your production? mentarian makes her films out of political and
tended period. So we ended up making six visits to “I make films out of moral and political motiva- moral indignation.
Popenguine of 8-10 days each over a period of three tion. I’m angry about the world’s inequality. You years. There were always just three of us (Fatouma- could say that ‘living despite it all’ is the subtext of By niKolaJ manGURTen laSSen
ta Kandé Senghor, the line producer, Serigne Drame all my films. I never add a voiceover to my films; or Jean Diouf as cameraman and myself) and from it’s very important for me to have people speak for “I really hadn’t planned to make a film in Senegal, the beginning we very clearly stated what we were themselves. My goal is to create a different represen- but I was adopting a Senegalese child. One of my tation of people from Third World countries than best friends is originally from Popenguine, and I “Another important factor was that we never the prevailing media image, because I have no use was there on personal business. While I was there, paid people to be in the film, which is actually rather for victimisation. I want the audience to be chal- I heard the rumours that someone wanted to build unusual. Instead, we paid people for their services lenged and experience that white Westerners can and participation with different kinds of gifts. This easily mirror themselves in black people and their “The next thing that happens is I see this giant could be anything from bags of rice and blankets to concrete block rise up in the town’s central square. paying someone’s electric bill or springing for de- It immediately triggered all my prejudices about lousing treatments, wine, jewellery, Viagra or birth For further information, see catalogue section in back entrepreneurial Europeans out to make a buck, and I got the idea to make a film about the arrival of tourism.
SPoR meDia
“Of course, I soon realised that a Senegalese per- Founded 1980 as an independent association aimed at promot- son was building the hotel. So my prejudice flies out ing world cultures through educational work, film projects, the window. But the story remains, because I’m still festivals and other cultural events. Facilitates distribution of curious about the idea itself: What happens when a documentaries and fiction made by African, Asian and Latin mogul comes to town? Will everything be changed by tourism? Will people’s values shift?” helle TofT JenSen
fRom oUTeR To inneR SToRy
Born 1957, Denmark. Director, co-director and producer of SPOR MEDIA productions. Directed and produced several So the film moves from an “outer” to a more “inner” story? “Yes, when the story about the town and its de-velopment is illuminated through Jeannot and his control pills – things people specifically, personal- dilemmas, the angle changes and it becomes a more ly wanted. That way, we made sure that our being universally human story about coming ‘back home.’ there had a positive influence. Instead of just hand- Maybe my fascination with Jeannot, the returning ing out money, which might be the cause of envy immigrant, and his personal story is also my own and dissension, these gifts were something peo- unconscious way of preparing myself for my son’s ple could enjoy in the here and now as well as in a somewhat bigger perspective. So we avoided falling The characters in the film seem very comfortable into the classic role of ‘whites with money.’ with the camera and the fact that they are being filmed. “We held the world premiere of the film last April in Popenguine, in the central square right next “I personally shot almost half of Hotel of Dreams. to Jeannot’s hotel. A crowd of 600 people showed Photo: Sonja Iskov

Source: http://www.spormedia.dk/Tekster/pages_18_19_film47.pdf


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Nom patronymique : Prénom : Date et lieu de naissance : Né le 03 décembre 1973 à Epernay (51) Maître de Conférences en Neuropsychologie de l’enfant et de l’adulte depuis le 01 septembre 2010 à l’Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne . Membre titulaire du Laboratoire CLEA : Cognition, Langage, Emotion, Acquisitions, EA 4296. ACTIVITES DE RECHERCHE ET P

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