a film by Alyssa Bolsey
After learning that her great-grandfather had invented the iconic Bolex camera, young filmmaker Alyssa Bolsey traces the historical trajectory of the Bolex from her great-grandfather’s invention through to its current incarnation in the digital age. Within the documentary, we will unravel the story of the Bolex camera as we uncover Jacques Bolsey’s intriguing life story of innovation, and listen to the stories of filmmakers who have used the camera.
At the introduction of 16mm film, Bolsey invented the Bolex, a camera simple and flexible enough that anyone could use it. And with this camera he himself became a filmmaker and an important film pioneer in Geneva, creating personal, professional and educational films.
Little did Bolsey know that this invention would outlive him, and decades later his camera would be key to bringing about his dream of a future of accessible filmmaking for everyone.
Today, in the new millennium, we live at the cusp of a transition between film and digital technology. Kodak declares bankruptcy, and company after company announces that they are discontinuing their involvement with film. And yet, at the same time, a wave of nostalgia for the medium emerges. It is during this major juncture that the journey to discover this film pioneer is launched by his great-granddaughter using the tools available to her, due in part to Bolsey’s Bolex camera.
While doing research, Alyssa coincidentally discovers that there is a present day parallel to her great-grandfather’s story, in the form of a camera currently in the final stages of development, the Digital Bolex. The future camera is being developed by two young American filmmakers in collaboration with the Swiss company, Bolex International, with the aim of making a professional camera for independent filmmakers at a price they can afford. It becomes clear to Alyssa that the Bolex vision isn’t necessarily over yet.
«Beyond the Bolex» uses the contemporary eyes of Bolsey’s great-granddaughter to explore an innovative past that established a foundation of independent filmmaking, which has helped lead to our rapidly changing present.