Jaco Van Dormael
In fact, I never had any Down syndrome in my family. I think when I was young, my mother told me don’t look at them because they will be ashamed if you look at them. So, my declaration as a kid was, okay, avoid it, don’t look at it. And when I was 22 I think, I was lucky to make a documentary about Special Olympics, and I was supposing to make a normal documentary about what happened. But every moment I put the camera somewhere, somebody — most of the time Down’s syndrome or this sort of person came in front of the camera and said “Hi, my name is John” and suddenly there was always a lot of people around, and they all wanted to be filmed, and they all had a lot of stories to tell, and it was very warm-hearting in fact, and it was — and so they really took the documentary to make something different with it, anything that I’d supposed.1
And after that I made two other films, but that were fiction, but sort of unprepared fiction and sort of with a very tiny script, but a lot of improvisation. One of them is called L’imitateur. It’s two guys that are — they had an appointment at the station and they don’t find their parents, and then they are lost in the city for 24 hours, and it’s everything that can happen. And that was really a joy to shoot, because they are — they do just what they want. There was one guy that was — his name is Jacques — he’s dead now, unfortunately — so, he was in my house, he was sleeping in my bed, using my toothbrush in the morning. He didn’t want to go to make the film before he ate all the chocolate and all the bread.2
And when he had eaten all the bread and all the chocolate, he was sick, so it was impossible to make the film. So, everything was totally out of — it was fantastic, it was fantastic, and it was — at that moment I realized with them, it’s about the pleasure to do things. They do a film, because they love to make a film. And if it’s not funny, they don’t do it anymore. So, they do it because they like to do it. And after that I — so I made a few short films with them, with these sort of special actors, who can be fantastic actors, even if they are unable to put a stamp on a letter or if they can’t use a computer or anything else or if they pretend they are unable to work. That happens also.