A surreal journey through the capricious mind of Jean Benoît
- the last French Surrealist
WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM AWARD 2012 Toronto International Film Festival
WINNER: BEST SHORT DOC AWARD 2013 Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER: BEST SHORT DOC AWARD 2013 Nevada City Film Festival
NAMED to the TIFF TOPTEN Best Shorts of 2012
NOMINATED for BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY - Canadian Screen Awards 2013
Jean Benoît, the last official member of the French Surrealist group, receives Deco Dawson’s signature visual treatment in a biography that fantastically illustrates Benoit’s formative (and highly sexual) childhood memories. Mixing interviews recorded in Benoît’s Parisian studio with Surrealist-inspired re-enactments, Dawson deconstructs documentary conventions to eulogize a formidable artist.
Alex Rogalski - TIFF 2012
He moved to Montreal and taught at the L’ecole des beauxs-arts until 1947 when he initiated a riot among his students, imploring them to protest the conservative and religious history of art in Quebec. This riot would become the impetus for the Manisfeste Prisme d'Yeux and the Refus Global movement in Quebec. Benoît was quickly fired from the school and along with his expelled student and soon-to-be wife Mimi Parent, he permanently moved to Paris.
A naturally born iconoclast, a lover of life and a life filled with lovers, Jean Benoît was truly an inspired artist with the deviance of an alley cat. An extroverted recluse with a boisterous laugh and tender personality, Benoît repeatedly rejected the grand spotlight and rarely allowed his work to be showcased. Today most of his work is still owned by only a handful of collectors.
Jean Benoît was like no other artist, his meticulously crafted and highly sexual art is both as technically and characteristically unparalleled as the man himself.
Deco recently won the 2013 Winnipeg Mayor's Arts Award and the 2013 Manitoba Hothouse Filmmaker Award for his outstanding contributions to the local and international film and arts scenes.
Produced by: Deco Dawson
Producer: Catherine Chagnon
Creative Producer: Craig Trudeau
Original Score by: Paul Shrofel
Cinematography, Editing and Visual Effects by: Deco Dawson
Sound Design by: Jean-François B. Sauvé
Sound Mix by: Jean-Paul Vialard
Foley by: Russ Dyck
An Endstop and Elsewhere Production
Microclimat Films co-Production
Produced with the generous assistance of:
The Canada Council for the Arts
The National Film Board (ACIC program)
The Manitoba Arts Council
Manitoba Film and Music
The Winnipeg Film Group
The Winnipeg Arts Council
Additional funding provided by:
On Screen Manitoba
David Silverberg - Digital Journal
"Deco Dawson's Keep a Modest Head steals the show here with a visually stunning look at the "life" of late French Surrealist Jean Benoît... blending live action, impeccable green screen work, haunting animation and a picture-in-picture mise en scene that creates a psychosexual dreamlike state that few other shorts can achieve in the same period of time."
Andrew Parker - Dork Shelf
"Deco Dawson's Keep a Modest Head is a film that expands the boundaries of documentary, one that perfectly reflects its surreal subject."
Reg Harkema - TIFF 2012 Shorts Jury President
"Although there were many great films to discuss and debate, ultimately there was one film that the jury unanimously felt was particularly worthy of receiving the Best Documentary Short award. For its brilliantly surrealistic imagining of the life of the last of the surrealists.... Keep a Modest Head"
Seattle International Film Festival: Jury Statement
"Dawson has developed a signature visual style that's impossible to duplicate."
Nicholas Frisen - Uptown Magazine
"I definitely commend (Deco Dawson) for his commitment to highlighting the life of Jean Benoît and creating such a visually interesting and experimental way to translate Benoît's life to screen. Hearing Benoît talk about his life in his own words partnered with a visually surrealist way of telling it is incredibly groundbreaking"
Kindah - Press +1
"Dawson does a nice job of creating a warped space, this time in Benoît's recreated childhood home, which houses wall portraits that turn into screens, and women who mysteriously appear in various states of undress as per Benoît's overactive imagination."
Angelo Muredda - Torontoist.com
"Deco Dawson's Keep a Modest Head is an amazing work, he's an exquisite stylist."
Allison Gilmore - CBC Radio