DOC NYC 2018: Beyond the Bolex

Bolex inventor Jacques Bolsey holds his invention. Photo courtesy of the Bolsey estate.

Filmmaker Alyssa Bolsey takes us Beyond the Bolex to share the story of her great-grandfather, Jacques Bolsey.

When Emil Bolsey died in 2004, he left behind a vast archive belonging to his late father, Jacques Bolsey.  Until this point, filmmaker Alyssa Bolsey thought she was the only one in her family.  As fate would have it, her great-grandfather was one of the early Swiss pioneers in filmmaking.  This is because he was the creator of the Bolex camera. When Alyssa Bolsey learns this, she sets out to make a documentary on her great-grandfather.  There’s a lot of love and care that the filmmaker put into this project.  This includes restoring 16mm film reels that she discovered within the archives.

In 1924, Bolsey would change filmmaking through creating the Bolex camera.  This camera would be used by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Spike Lee, and many more.  Alyssa’s journey in telling her grandfather’s story takes her to Switzerland as he learns more about her own family.  This journey involves interviews with family members in addition to a number of filmmakers with experience using the Bolex.

To say that Jacques Bolsey had a journey of his own would be an understatement.  The Jewish inventor left Russia for Switzerland before finding his way into the United States.  It was in the US where he would invent a camera for military use.  Following the war, such camera would go onto mainstream use.  There’s an immigrant story to be said here and this speaks to the film’s timeliness in a way.

Appropriately, Beyond the Bolex ends with a montage of film clips from those films who used the Bolex to share their own stories with audiences.  This montage of clips is one that speaks to Jacques Bolsey’s legacy because the camera remains an inspiration.

DIRECTOR:  Alyssa Bolsey
FEATURING:  Jacques Bolsey (archival), Alyssa Bolsey, Wim Wenders, Carole Bolsey, Joel Schlemowitz, Barbara Hammer, Jonas Mekas, Michel Auer, Gerard Malanga, Dave Alex Riddett, Mark Ueter, Bruce Brown, Collin Hanney, John Kaasa, Michel Bolsey, Robin Bolsey, Laureen Williams

Beyond the Bolex held its world premiere during DOC NYC 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.