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Famed French film-maker Chris Marker dies at 91

media Screenshot from La Jetée by Chris Marker DR/YouTube

The great French director and writer, Chris Marker, died in Paris on Sunday at the age of 91. He is often credited as the godfather of the essay film, a blend of documentary and personal reflection. Many well-known directors such as, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Marie Straub and Michael Moore have based their work on Marker’s innovation.

His creative use of sound, images and text in his often poetic and philosophical documentaries were his signature skills in this new documentary genre. “A quiet personality, immense talent” was how the president of the Cannes film festival, Gilles Jacob desribed Marker. He added in his tweet that Marker had this “curious nature”, and was a “tireless director”.

Marker got his first break during the 1952 Helsinki Olympics when he filmed the his first film “Olympia 1952” on a tight budget

He is best known for his documentary “Cuba Si!” (1961), and for his fictional short film “La Jetée” (1962). Much of his work dealt with the theme of memory, in particular how a person reconstructs a personal memory or a certain time in history.

Not much is known about his private life, as he liked to keep it personal and heavily shrouded in mystery. He refused to be photographed or to present his own films, often responding to requests for photographs with a picture of a cat; his favourite animal.

Marker was born Christian François Bourche-Villeneuve in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. His pseudonym, Marker, is thought to have come from the Magic Marker pen. He died the same day he was born on 29 July.

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