Documentary-maker Jean-Michel Carré and his love for China


By Theano-Damiana Agaloglou

It was fascinating meeting French documentary-maker and director Jean-Michel Carré in Beijing and Lhasa. Using his camera he was shooting scenes from the daily life of local people preparing a new documentary. Jean-Michel Carré always has something interesting to say as it also happened with his interview on chinaandgreece. Although he was born in the capital of France – Paris – in 1948, he has been keen on following developments in countries located away from Europe.

China is one of the countries highly attracting the attention of the French documentary-maker and director. Looking at historical as well as at current developments he explains on chinaandgreece that ‘China is the only ancient country being able to acquire its glory of the past. This is not the case with Greece, Egypt and ancient Rome’. Jean-Michel Carré’s documentary ‘China, the New Empire’ is a reference point for those who want to experience China without stereotypes and prejudices. That is because this documentary, which is divided into three parts (‘China Wakes Up’, ‘China Becomes Assertive’ and the ‘China Dominates’), is perhaps the first attempt to present a comprehensive picture of the history of China from the Opium Wars until the beginning of Xi Jinping’s presidency. Jean-Michel Carré conducted numerous interviews with people who live and work in China including businessmen, workers, scholars, artists, journalists, economists, psychologists, farmers and politicians.

Carré believes that this documentary can challenge the existing misconception that China ‘is a third world country’. Speaking on chinaandgreece he underlines the importance he places on the dynamism of the Chinese people ‘who want to show to the outside world that they will not accept again a similar humiliation to the one of Opium Wars of the 19th century’. In his view, ‘Chinese people are now able to secure a non-violent retribution’ since China constitutes the world’s largest economy and they see its power increasing in the Asia-Pacific area.

The successful French director believes that the Chinese method of reasoning  cannot be accomplished unless Chinese people acknowledge the influence that Marxism and Confucianism has had on their lives. Only then might the concept of common and collective good  be better understood despite a few cases of corruption President Xi is currently attempting to limit. Last but not least, Jean-Michel Carré elaborates on the alleged assumption prevailing in the West that Chinese workers are stealing the work of Europeans. As he says, ‘the debate should be first directed towards the policy of Western companies which have decided to invest in China and increase their profits because of low wages’

Jean-Michel Carré might support views which are opposed by some of his compatriots. But this does not deter him because as a filmmaker he is committed to reveal the truth. In the final account, he concludes that ‘people can only achieve success if they are doing exciting things they like.’

Jean-Michel Carré is currently continuing his work in China and working on a film about Chinese contemporary artists.

Other recent works of  the French director include ‘The Opera of the Minors’, ‘Putin’s System’, ‘Kursk: A Submarine in Troubled Waters’, ‘Ukraine: From Independence to Chaos’.

Jean-Michel Carré’s film on China (exists in French, English and Chinese), as well as his other films, and can be purchased on or on / Tel: +33(0)1 43 44 16 72