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French Bear Artist In Documentary Spotlight

August 5, 2011
French Bear Artist In Documentary Spotlight

The life story of acclaimed French bear artist Christophe Jannin is to be tackled in a feature-length documentary from the award-winning team at Number 8 Films, to be released in 2012 as “Christophe’s Arc”.

The filmmakers describe the documentary as a journey that follows Jannin across the world to his native France and back to his new Kiwi home and partner. Along the way, Christophe learns to celebrate his renaissance as an illustrator who brings together masculinity, ancient symbols, and the spirit of bear brotherhood from two very different nations.

Production began on the documentary in February this year during Bear New Zealand week, where Christophe’s character art adorned posters, T-shirts and condom packs.

“One of my first questions for Christophe was: you were a celebrated illustrator in Paris, one of the world’s great hubs of art, architecture, culture and history – how the hell did you end up in Auckland?” says director Christopher Banks.

“The answer to that question took us behind the drawings on a rollercoaster of emotions including love, betrayal, loss of faith, rediscovering a sense of community, and an inquisitive cat called Napoleon. All the elements of a great Hollywood blockbuster really, only hairier and without Julia Roberts.”

Shooting for the documentary will be complete before the end of the yea, much of it centred around two major exhibitions of new Christophe Jannin artwork. The first, Original Digital, launches at The Digital Darkroom in Auckland at 6:30pm on August 19 and runs through to September 11.

The works will explore the light and dark side of human nature. As well as the bear illustrations he’s known for, there’s also works depicting women, including a triumphant Joan of Arc and the imposing ‘Red Cardinal’, Jannin’s take on the sinister yet alluring side of religious authority.

“There’s more than twenty pieces, a mixture of paintings, original drawings, digital printings, drafts and original sketches,” Jannin says. “The main theme of the exhibition is humanity, what makes us human. I’m still very inspired by France in my work, but I love the quality of life in New Zealand, and the peace.”

The second exhibition is in Bordeaux, France, at L’Ours Marin (The Marine Bear), after which the documentary crew will follow Christophe as he is reunited with friends, family in his home town of Reims, and as he revisits old haunts in Paris.

“Telling Christophe’s story is another chapter in our ongoing commitment to telling the untold stories about gay men in our community and our country,” says Andy Jalfon, Head of Production at Number 8 Films. “The types of men and women he draws are outside the stereotypes associated with gay art, and just like the man himself, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface.”

Christophe says it’s an honour to be the subject of a documentary. “It’s also very weird,” he laughs. “I’m used to seeing people interested in my work, but having something focused on me as a person takes a bit of getting used to.”

The Original Digital exhibition begins at 6:30pm on Friday August 19 at The Digital Darkroom, 273 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland and runs through until September 11.

For more information on Christophe Jannin:

For more information on Number 8 Films:


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