Beyond the Bolex Synopsis
Filmmaker Alyssa Bolsey stumbles on a treasure trove of vintage cameras, old film reels, fading photos, technical drawings and boxes of documents that belonged to her great-grandfather Jacques Bolsey. Among the many boxes, she spots an old movie camera with the word "Bolex" embossed on its side and a dangling tag with the date, "1927." Entranced, she embarks on a journey to reveal how Jacques aimed to disrupt the early film industry with a motion picture camera for the masses.As she delves into the long-forgotten archive, Alyssa discovers that the reels of 16mm films inside the collection of rusty cans are too brittle to run through a projector. Once the films are restored, she is captivated by their casual style as commonly seen today with digital cameras and smartphones. Jacques comes to life through his films.Reading his journals, Alyssa learns firsthand of the trials he faced both as an idealistic inventor and as an immigrant. In his words and films, she finds a man living stateless in Switzerland, torn from his homeland by the Russian Revolution. After many years of inventing in Switzerland and still unable to gain acceptance, Jacques finds his way to the US, and creates a new generation of military cameras for the fight against fascism.Alyssa travels to Switzerland - the birthplace of the Bolex and Jacques' two sons. She traces her own roots to her great-grandmother Sima's apartment in Geneva, visits the Paillard factory where the Bolex Model H was designed and built, and stops at the current headquarters of Bolex International.Along the way, Alyssa seeks insight from camera collectors, historians and renowned filmmakers who explain how the iconic Bolex reached the farthest corners of the globe, unleashed the imagination and became synonymous with creative freedom. Simple and functional, it became a perfect tool for a diverse range of filmmakers. Alyssa speaks to Wim Wenders, Jonas Mekas, Barbara Hammer, Bruce Brown and others, who share the unbridled creative potential that the cameras' user has at their fingertips. Ninety years after Jacques released the first Bolex, she discovers that his pioneering invention continues to inspire filmmakers today.Drawing on expert interviews, memories of her family members, excerpts from Jacques personal diary and clips from his own movies, Beyond the Bolex is the remarkable tale of an immigrant, who in the face of adversity, made his lifelong ambition of making film and photography accessible to all, and inspired new generations of filmmakers.
May 28, 2023 at 10:04 PM