They allowed him to get rid of the film crew and create deceptively amateur (filmeur) diary essay films in which he raised complex issues of human existence. Cavalier is one of the most outstanding directors who brought to life the manifesto of Alexandre Astruc about a new avant-garde, according to which, with the help of a light “camera-pen” (caméra-stylo), an author can express an idea, no matter how abstract it may be.
In the era of global social cataclysms, out of all of Cavalier’s creative works, his autobiographical films seem to be the most relevant: “This Answering Service Takes No Messages" (1978), "The Encounter" (1996), "Le Filmeur" (2005), and "Holy Places" (2007). All of them are permeated with deep feelings: pain caused by the loss of a loved one, joy from the return of the ability to love, the desire to accept the finiteness of one’s own life. But the main thing that unites them is the author's ability to look at himself. This view reflects the experience of introspection most of us have lived through during forced isolation, when we were often left alone with ourselves. However, long before the era of Covid-19, the practice of placing oneself “inside” the camera lens became a part of our everyday. But not all of us follow Cavalier and use selfies for a serious conversation about perennial questions. This short retrospective shows the French director as a collector of intimate fragments of life, for whom the camera not only continues the work of memory, but also turns out to be a therapeutic device that helps to come to terms with death.