Her Mentor Edited Breathless
Edited from a memorial post written by Mary Stephen a month after the passing of Cécile Decugis in June 2017:
Rohmer suggested I become an assistant editor on La Femme de l’Aviateur (so I could earn a little dough and stay in France)…When I knew that Cécile had edited A Bout de Souffle (Breathless), which is such a mythical work for cinephiles all over the world, I told Éric I would have been happy to sweep the floors for Cécile.
Cécile always maintained great gentleness with me, despite Éric’s strong remonstrations: “She’s making the other crew all cry, aren’t you scared of her?”
Then followed years of friendship, much of it at a distance. She never made me cry; on the contrary she helped me get over youthful tears whenever there was a matter of heartbreak or slight at perceived injustices to me, as a young Chinese woman fresh from Canada.
When I went to visit her for the last time, the year before she died, she brought me into the house, she gave me a DVD of her film about the demolition of the Renault plant on the island of Seguin. Earlier she had asked me for my opinion about her new film about her father, a short but emotional piece. I was very moved by this film that she was going to such great pains to finish, with the editing formats, the sound mixing…It was incredible for me and my children to see this woman at 86 or 87 keeping the faith as a filmmaker, and being able to carry on with her work almost to the end. I would have liked to be able to say a last farewell.
Never postpone until tomorrow a telephone call you could make today….