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Jean Pierre Fizet, stills photographer to the stars of the cinema, dies at 76


Jean Pierre Fizet has died at the age of seventy-six years, in Arles, where he had lived since 2002. He was a known and recognised stills photographer. For several decades, he let us discover the actors as they were rarely seen: scenes of their lives immortalised between takes, in a dressing room, a train… Stolen moments often, but expressive. Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Jean Gabin, Romy Schneider, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Carme and many others were part of his life.

At the beginning of the 1960s however, he was a great reporter, on the Vietnam war, Israel, the Russians in Prague, May 1968 – in particular, he also covered de Gaulle, Pope Paul VI, the Shah of Iran, of whom he took the last photos in 1980 during his exile in Panama. Before his cinema years. Between conflicts he photographed the stars of the day during shooting, at the Cannes and Venice festivals. A unique and rewarding experience, exciting according to him, that he had the chance to experience thanks to a chance encounter with the director Michel Audiard, and who diverted his career towards the cinema. The directors Audiard, Lelouch, Truffaut, Oury, De Broca, Leconte, Poiré… accorded him their confidence on nearly eighty films over twenty years. “I started with the film Elle cause plus, elle flingue, with Annie Girardot”, he explained, “Then Catherine Deneuve asked me for four films. It was a special time. I loved to stay in the background to watch, to work when the moment was right.”

The stars of the French cinema would relate to his lens and his photos reflect a great complicity and confidence acquired during all the years of privileged encounters with stars of the movies, fashion and politics. As Truffaut recalled, he remembered all their moods, their joys, their sorrows. “Romy, you had to adapt, to know her mood at that moment. She could be violent”. In recent years, he distanced himself from that circle, which, he said, didn’t thrill him as before. He did however, maintain his connections, with the actor Jean Rochefort, who also died recently, and the actors Macha Méryl and Guy Marchand. “I stopped four years ago”, Jean Pierre Fizet said in 1998. “Today everything has changed. Stills photographers are rare. Now. I would get bored, there’s too much business, money, everything goes too fast. We’ve lost human contact and trust.

 Jonas Cuénin

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