PODCAST: "Impact cinema: making films to change the world" - Jean-François Camilleri, President of Echo Studio

June 29, 2021

In this new episode, The Caring Gallery gives the floor to a man of the 7th art: Jean-François Camilleri. His entire career has been dedicated to making aesthetically beautiful films, true creations, whose messages do not leave one indifferent. The images and stories can make us aware of the dysfunctions and shortcomings of our world. They can also incite us to act to build a better future for all. This is the meaning of Jean-François Camilleri's testimony. So let's listen, watch and act.





Jean-François Camilleri is a man of cinema. He has held various responsibilities within The Walt Disney Company France, up to the position of general manager. In 2008 he created the Disney Nature label, dedicated to documentaries on fauna, flora and the environment. This label has established itself as a reference in environmental films, producing a number of wonders on a global scale, including Chimpanzee, Oceans and March of the PenguinsHe decided to pursue his commitment to impact cinema by presiding over Echo Studio. 

"What can I contribute? What can I do so that, by working with good directors, screenwriters and actors, we can make really good films that have impact? ''


"To build a better world, we must be based on respect: respect for ourselves, for others, for nature. If man respects his fellow human beings and if he respects the planet, the problems of human rights, violence and the environment disappear. "

Like the hummingbird, as Charles-Marie Leconte de Lisle said, which extinguishes the fire drop by drop, everyone must bring his drop, his stone to the building. Jean-François Camilleri's contribution is therefore that of the cinema, through which he wishes to raise public awareness, whether on a tablet, on television or in the cinema.

"I find that in the emergency we are in, we cannot afford not to bring meaning to what we do. For me, it is absolutely essential to believe in it. I believe that today, more and more, the notion of a better world is not a dreamer's subject, but it is also an economic subject. "



"In 2005/2006, it was necessary to show the planet as it was, to offer the public not only fictional images and series for teenagers but to convey strong messages through strong images." 

Jean-François Camilleri therefore created Disney Nature, with this inspiring catchphrase: "Nature invents the most beautiful of stories." 

"I hope that out of the 10 or 100 million people who have been able to see these films, there are 1,000 in the world whose lives have changed because they have decided to become nature photographers, veterinarians, biologists, or activists. "


With Yves Darondeau and Emmanuel Priou, Jean-François Camilleri produced the film March of the Penguins, which was a huge success with the public and critics in France and abroad (an Oscar, a César and a Victoire de la musique). It was then that Jean-François Camilleri saw the impact of cinema, the power of the image and the story.  


"The spectators were taken to a place they didn't know or didn't know much about, or that they didn't imagine because they couldn't go there, and the beauty of the film inspired, triggered strong things. We understand the fragility of the world and the incredible strength of nature through a story that no one could have imagined and that nature invented. "




For several years, more and more films - and not only documentaries but also fiction films - have been dealing with important social issues. 


In 2006, Rachid Bouchareb's Days of Glory had a real impact on the lives of tens of thousands of retired fighters from North Africa. After seeing the film, Dominique de Villepin and Jacques Chirac decided to change the law and ensure that all Maghreb combatants who came to fight in World War II would have access to pensions like their French counterparts. Although the director did not make this film to change the law, it became a political tool that changed the world as the impact was so great.

"Today, there is this awareness that cinema can be useful to society, that it can have an impact. Thus, the spectator who has been inspired by a film and who has discovered a subject that he did not know, has been a spectator and will perhaps become an actor. "

It is not only the professionals of the cinema who make the impact, but also the spectators: some films will make 200,000 admissions in the cinema, but when they are shown on a major channel, they will make a million and a half. Some films will make 200,000 admissions in the cinema, but when they are shown on a major channel, they will make a million and a half.  You should never stop at the first impact campaign. It's a long-term job because the subject may evolve in society and adapt.


"My first objective is to make a good film. Because it will have an impact if it's a good film. That's the difference with the political project that forgets its primary function, that forgets to be a good film and that is purely militant. If the film has no cinematic interest, you completely miss the message because you get bored. "




The documentary film Walking on Water, the first feature film by Aïssa Maïga. This auteur film tells the story of a village in Niger that has no access to water and fights to have a well dug.


"It is an important film on the subject of access to water. It is the girls who usually fetch water from wells that are miles away and so they don't go to school. The day a borehole arrives in a village, the girls go back to school and the education of the women allows a whole social set up to take place. "

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