A Tribute to Jean-Luc Xiberras
The first time I saw you was at "Chez Ani." "Ani" for Animation, as it was the night-club improvised on the grounds of the Ottawa Festival, on the ground floor of some building. That must have been August, 1982. You were at the bar, alone, perched in white on top of a stool. We few Frenchmen at the festival were seated around a low table. One of them told me you would be the next director of the Annecy Festival. I went over to you and invited you to join us. At that moment you gave me in a single smile what you never ceased to offer us all: your confidence, your politeness, and that funny cloudiness in your eyes which was the constant prelude to your magic; giving dreams an earthly life.
At your cradle, I suppose some fairy declared that your talent would be to permit things and people, projects and ideas, to assume their whole dimension, as far as their promise allows. So you made of our little festival the very grand festival that it deserved to become. You were the Little Big Man of the Little Big Festival. Once I described to you some of the ideas that you had permitted me to realize: you granted the means that were necessary, you gave confidence, you knew that it would be good. All of that confidence that you had to give, to this one and that, gradually wove the chrysalis that was Annecy, the nights in its theaters, reflecting these dreams made into films. Dreams whose authors you tirelessly visited throughout the world, and as a faithful master of dreams, brought them back to your screens. Your last victory, despite the skeptics, has been to succeed in an incontestable fashion to establish the yearly status of our festival.
At the hospital you made us believe -- anesthetizing our nervousness, your fat briefcase bulging with files on the armchair beside your bed -- that finally nothing was really that serious. Even the sickness, you made it doubt, but it gripped you again, realizing, as if in a chase scene of a cartoon, that it was chasing you and not the reverse -- the game however was well played...
While a man is alive, you always feel a little shy about saying that you love him. Then comes the time when you can no longer say anything to him at all. You find yourself all alone, too late as I am now, with my little compliments. If I agreed to write them down, it was only to make the time to finally tell you what I neglected to say during all these years of our complicity. For what I am about to write is not really meant for others, because everyone, I'm sure, feels the same. Good-bye, Little Big Man.
Writer, Producer. Former member of the Administrative Council of the Annecy Festival, organizer since 1983 of 3 conferences on advertising and 2 special selections of my own choosing.