by Olivier Meyrou
The ITVS-funded documentary Acrobat premiered Sunday on Global Voices. After the tragic passing of the film’s central character, Fabrice Champion, filmmaker Olivier Meyrou reflects on his time with Fabrice.
The version of Acrobat that recently premiered on Global Voices wrapped about a year ago, however, with the support of the film’s producer, shooting continued long after that. I couldn’t help thinking that Fabrice hadn’t yet completed his journey.
I had helped Alexandre, Matias, and Fabrice in developing a new show based on their tetradance and tetraacrobatics work, shooting them at work. Their friendship was developing and the show they were working on was turning out to be full of energy. The youth and vitality of Alexandre and Matias was influencing Fabrice just as much as he was influencing them.
Even though Fabrice was still struggling to find more energy – it was like his personal quest would never stop – the last public rehearsal of the show in October was a huge success and everything was set for opening night in February 2012.
Fabrice decided to go to Peru to meet with a shaman he had discovered on a DVD. The day before he left France, we went to see a circus show together and spoke about the feature film we had in mind. I told him about my desire to develop Matias and Alexandre characters in order to work on the idea of transmission.
We both agreed we should start the film as his portrait and open the film’s third act to the boys only. Fabrice was upbeat about the idea. For the first time, he told me how everything would be easier from now on since he was no longer alone and he now knew where he was going. He was happy with his life, despite complaining that he was exhausted by the rehearsals.
He left France the morning after and arrived in Peru, taking the drugs the shaman gave him. The second night, Fabrice succumbed to the drugs and passed away. I remember calling Matias to let him know about Fabrice’s death. It was unreal. Having gone through so much, it seemed as if Fabrice was immortal. Fabrice’s body was brought back to France three weeks later. He could not be cremated due to police and judicial restrictions, but he was buried in Toulon.
Earlier this year, Alexandre and Matias went back to work. While it was difficult to continue on without Fabrice, they felt it would have been even worse to abandon their common creation. In the meantime, the three of us completed shooting on the film and the sound editing is currently underway.
I have spent years with Fabrice and it has been an incredibly powerful experience. As shown in the short companion video above, we have been through many ups and downs, but we trusted one another. I know Fabrice would be very happy to see Alexandre and Matias following their artistic paths and carrying on his teachings, just as I know he would be happy to share his life and struggles with people all over the world. Acrobat was a way for Fabrice to become immortal after all.
Acrobat is available to view in entirety online via PBS Video (for a limited time only).