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Three Stones for Jean Genet

THREE STONES FOR JEAN GENET (Three Stones for Jean Genet) Frieder Schlaich , D 2014, 7 min

In April of 2013, American singer Patti Smith travels to the grave of French writer Jean Genet in Larache, Morocco. She brings him three stones, which she collected for him over 30 years ago.

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Copyright Berlinale Shorts 2014


Frieder Schlaich about his short film

Since 2005, when the shooting of "The African Twintowers" took place, Patti Smith, Karim Debbagh and I have been sharing an idea. 8 years later, in April 2013 we finally realized it.

In this particular moment there was no plan for a film, the situation seemed to private to me. But I wanted to document our little discovery tour in some way and packed Christoph Schlingensief's 16mm Bolex camera, which had been given into my custody shortly before. Patti Smith was friends with Christoph Schlingensief and I knew she would like this reference. There were also a few rolls of old black and white material left.

On a sunny day, after Patti Smith's concert in Tanger, we gave her a tour through town and to the beach-café at Cape Spartel, to places that linked us through Paul Bowles, whom the three of us knew well and admired. On the second day we went to Larache. At the grave of Jean Genet we did only a few shots. I wasn't much used anymore to put in film rolls, but it was nice to shoot with the heavily-rattling Bolex. A day later I strolled another time through Tanger with the camera and filmed a couple of places that we had visited in shots as long as possible. (The Bolex works with a spring, not with batteries, it runs for 30 min maximum.)

Patti Smith revealed the entire secret of the three stones only in Summer 2013, when I asked her to record the story, before her concert in Hamburg, in a hotel room. There was only one take, exactly like with the Bolex - which became this short film now. What the three stones are about, can't be disclosed here of course, it can only be told by Patti Smith, in the film.

This small film is a gift, you couldn't make up something like that.

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Press Coverage

TIFF’s Little Shorts with Big Stars It is a common misconception you never see big stars of stage and screen in short filmmaking. The TIFF Bell Lightbox is out to disprove with the kickoff to their new Short Cuts series, Big Stars, Short Form, a collection of charmingly disarming and beautiful stories screening for one night only, this coming Thursday October 9th at 6:30pm. ... A mini documentary tracking singer-songwriter Patti Smith (who co-directs, as well, alongside Frieder Schlaich) finds her travelling to the grave of legendary French writer Jean Genet in Morocco, one of her inspirations and idols finally bringing him three stones she collected for him over thirty years ago. This one’s more of an interesting aside from one of pop culture’s more iconic figures and less of a story with a narrative structure or even a great documentary. It’s a brief slice of something that’s important to this poet and punk icon without much else. Ultimately it’s something for the fans and Smith herself, but even when there’s little being done to bring outsiders into the fold, Smith still remains a fine storyteller. (Dokshelf, October 8.2014, Dave Voigt)

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