Beyond the Bolex is a documentary about the revolutionary Bolex camera, invented by Jaques Bolsey – great grandfather of this documentary’s host and director, Alyssa Bolsey. Working to document the development of his life’s work, Alyssa Bolsey’s research takes her through her great grandfather’s early life, his emigration to America from Switzerland during World War Two and his huge success in making Bolex a household name.
Along the way, Bolsey’s depiction of the famous relative she never knew gives her and the audience a real insight, as she not only talks about his family life, but the development of the indispensable Bolex. Alyssa Bolsey even gets the chance to talk to influential filmmakers of today such as Wim Wenders, Barbara Hammer and Jonas Mekas who also know how influential the Bolex was to them when first starting out.
The documentary shows that the Bolex camera was a one of a kind, influencing many filmmakers from Steven Spielberg to David Lynch and even Spike Lee who all loved using the camera because of its versatility, light weight and easy use.
Many filmmakers even use it today to get a feel of what it must have been like to use one nearly one hundred years ago when it was first invented, showing that its quality is just as respected now as it was then.
Being so close to her subject and yet so far, Alyssa Bolsey’s documentary takes on a very personal edge where she gets to know her great grandfather, longing to have had the chance to talk to him for hours about his work. This takes the documentary not only on a tour for lovers of the Bolex camera, but on a genealogical exploration of Jaques Bolex’s life as Alyssa tries to uncover what drove his inspiration.
As the documentary unfolds, Jaques Bolex’s life also serves as a story of hope, determination and the realisation of the American dream as Jaques Bolex, a Jewish immigrant, turned his inventions into a runaway success.
Alyssa Bolsey’s documentary probably won’t win over any people who are unaware of the Bolex and its legacy. However, for avid fans and collectors it’s like a treasure trove is opened before their eyes as they indulge in their love of a piece of film history. Beyond the Bolex is clearly a labour of love, family and maybe a little madness as it affects Jaques’s great granddaughter in ways she probably never imagined.
But, for those who understand the drive and passion behind filmmaking, the documentary has all the heart and passion of its visionary inventor.
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