Cenitz Studio
Capsule N°05

Lilou Lemaire

Lilou Lemaire is a French director and photographer based in Paris. In 2017, she was awarded the Long Feature Prize at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York. Drawing from her background as a portrait photographer, she maintains a focus on beautiful imagery, a preference for natural light, mastery of framing, and a constant pursuit of aesthetics. Her films stand out for their strong and sensitive human approach. Lilou Lemaire enjoys unveiling the lives of unknown men and women, revealing inaccessible worlds to the public, and telling stories that carry positive and optimistic messages.

What is the vision that you pursue through your work?

My guiding principle is to film things that have not yet been filmed; that's what motivates me the most, whether it's about humans or nature. For example, I made the first documentary about chefs in the military, the first nature documentary about the Manaslu region in Nepal in a transboundary area with China, the first documentary about female soldiers in the French army, and the first Saudi wildlife series. By choosing to explore entirely new territory each time, I put myself in really complex constraint conditions, but in the end, I love it; I love the somewhat crazy challenges, daring to film what has never been filmed before... I'm often criticized for having too diverse a thematic background, but ultimately, it reflects who I am. Each time, I put the human being at the center, with characters who are often inaccessible, like in "Between Two Worlds," where I focus on a modern-day hermit living deep in the Canadian North. My first films were about top chefs, and while gastronomy was just the backdrop, what fascinated me was their soul, why they pursued this crazy profession, and inevitably, I encountered strong personalities. I love challenges and going to see who the men and women are behind the masks, labels, and roles...

ITBA backstage

What cultural or historical roots, or what other disciplines or areas of society, have most influenced your profession, in your opinion?

I come from a simple background where nature had a real place - a garden, a vegetable patch, hiking, camping. I grew up in the city, but I always had this special connection. I was also influenced by TV shows like "Ushuaïa" and "Cousteau"; I couldn't miss an episode in my childhood. It was my dream to go on the Calypso and embark on adventures around the world. I have a very self-taught background; I became a photographer on my own and then a director on the job. I've always observed a lot around me, so I've been exposed to world music, all kinds of films, documentaries... I have a natural curiosity in many domains, and every time I have a new project, I immerse myself completely in that world.

What are the main changes you have observed in your profession over time, and what challenges might arise in the coming decades? How do they reflect societal and technological transformations?

In my first profession as a photographer, I started with film and quickly switched to digital. Then, with the arrival of the Canon 5D, I found myself able to shoot video with my camera... the famous red button was far from my dreams; for a long time, I just stared at it, as I knew nothing about video; I had been conditioned in my approach to still images. It took me some time, but eventually, 13 years later, I have around twenty documentaries under my belt. Technological revolutions are fascinating; for example, the arrival of 4K sometimes pushed productions to shoot in that quality, not to mention HDR. My joy comes from having made my first major documentary, which is currently on Netflix, and delivering it in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, 7.1.4 revolutionizes our auditory perceptions; it's an extraordinary experience, just like HDR with its luminous perception, relief, and natural three-dimensional feeling it gives. Now I dream of creating immersive experiences in VR and mapping too. I'm closely watching AI, which I already use in my writing; I dream of being able to use it in my films as well. Technological revolutions allow me to escape boredom, to step out of my comfort zone. I was one of the first to complain about digital calendars; today, I couldn't do without them. Sending me a Word file attachment is anything but a gift to me... Technologies have always modified human behavior; one must stay up-to-date, and for me, it's fascinating, and I intend to stay ahead for as long as possible. That's why I want to develop immersive projects by bringing my 25 years of image culture. One thing is certain, emotions and creativity can be aided by technology, but true magic of emotion comes from within our hearts.

Horizon movie trailer

Is there a book, a film, or a work of art that you feel perfectly captures the essence or dilemmas of your profession?

I highly recommend these three documentaries: "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," "Seven Winters in Tehran," and "20 Days in Mariupol." They portray a facet of our world strongly; they are powerful and vibrant testimonies that embody, for me, the essence of documentary filmmaking. After that, it's very difficult for me to mention names like that off the top of my head; my brain works a bit differently.

Imagine you could create a capsule that would travel through the universe and time, what would you like to put in it?

I would take with me an Atmos sound system with terabytes of sound, a suitcase filled with the best essential oils on planet Earth, and seeds to plant flowers. I always need beauty in front of my eyes; plants and flowers nourish me.

Women on duty still