Jazzdor Strasbourg 2013 presented a screening of a newly-released 90-minute documentary film Zicocratie, directed by Richard Bois. The film tells the story of how the Andy Emler Megaoctet prepared for the premiere of, and made the 2012 CD “E Total”. (More about the album here)
The film captures the way Emler leads the band through the process, eavesdrops on the discussions and dialogues between band-members. The film director also invited various outsiders with experience of leadership and management in other contexts to assess the ways in which Emler’s highly individual collaborative model resembled or differed from their own experience. These included Clementine Autain, a radical journalist and politician, Jacques Lanxade – a former admiral who was chief of the French defence staff under Mitterrand, a French Davis Cup tennis captain, and the captain of a salvage boat.
The director of the film Richard Bois admitted that the film’s title would most likely be scarcely comprehensible outside France, being derived from the French expression “En Avant La Zizique”, which is the title of a book of essays by the French novelist, parodist, inventor of words Boris Vian (1920-1959). It was itself an absurdist take on the film title “En avant la musique” and carries a madcap meaning similar to “S*d it, let’s do it anyway”.
A version of the film with English subtitles does exist. As regards its potential to get TV and film screenings, Richard Bois said that cinema distribution was unlikely, and admitted that he had given particularly short shrift to a TV distributor who had suggested that Bois might like to make a 52-minute version of the film.
The film served as a reminder that there is potential for jazz/improvisation leadership models based on a combination of respect for the individual and collective responsibility to inspire, and to become ideas to learn from elsewhere in society. Fertile ground for discussion, at the very least.