Meeting Jim is a feature length documentary about a journey back to the lifetime of Jim Haynes, an extraordinary 83-year-old man who grabbed with heart and soul the spirit of the 60s and continued to carry it throughout his life. This journey becomes also a physical one when he takes a train from the city of Paris, where he lives, to London and Edinburgh, the cities where he left his unique mark. A journey that will not only bring out his past and memories, but also his carefully preserved collection of human interconnections. An unusual network he managed to create by realising the needs of a society that desperately longs for more humanity and collaboration. By establishing social hubs and creative centres for artists and art lovers to express themselves and show their work, Jim Haynes made a strong contribution to the artistic and literary scene of the time and became a key figure in the counterculture movement during the 60s .
Jim Haynes established the very first paperback bookshop in Britain; co-produced the 1962 Conference on the Novel and 1963 Drama Conference in Edinburgh – which inspired the current Edinburgh International Book Festival; co-founded the Traverse Theatre, was a catalyst for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, established the London Traverse Theatre Company, co-founded the newspaper I.T., the underground pop club U.F.O., and the London Arts Lab. He taught Media Studies and Sexual Politics at the University of Paris VIII for three decades, co-founded the sexual freedom newspaper Suck, and directed the Wet Dream Film Festival in Amsterdam. In his Paris atelier, he created a salon tradition with open dinners every Sunday evening for some 38 years and over 150,000 guests to date – and counting… (1)
This succession of compelling achievements is just a mere reflection of a unique philosophy of life and an extraordinary ability to materialise it. Through the simple act of living and an exceptional way of perceiving life, Jim Haynes has proved that a philosophical thought, an ideal, can actually be turned into a reality. He is a true optimist, a legendary figure keeping the soul of the 60s alive and continuing to spread their legacy. He never puts any barriers between himself and others, creating thus an environment where people are not defined by their beliefs, origin, or age; a world where no one is neither judged nor favoured. This is easier said than done and to some it might just sound cliché, but meeting someone who has managed to actually translate such an utopia into the real world and being able to witness it, is certainly very rare.
Jim is a traveller. Edinburgh, London and Paris are some of the places where he has lived and left precious marks. In the film, the camera follows him in his daily life in the city of Paris, to some of his regular spots and activities and into his home: a parisian atelier where he has lived for the past 43 years. There, he is always hosting a friend or someone new and every Sunday evening welcomes between 40 to 100 friends and strangers for dinner, creating an ideal environment for people to connect with each other.
Then the journey begins. The destination, the worldwide famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which this year he will be attending for the 60th time. A long voyage he has been doing by train for more than 40 years, including a traditional stop in the city of London for a special dinner party in his honour. Finally, the trip will bring us back again to London, where he will be attending both the private and public opening of a collective exhibition he will be part of, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. All the way throughout this amazing journey, the camera follows Jim as he encounters the friendships and relationships of a lifetime and interacts with the hundreds of people who always seem to surround him no matter where: restaurants, cafés, book fairs’ stalls, or theatre venues. Any place is ideal to meet someone new, any place is just perfect for a new human connection.
Meeting Jim is a documentary film aiming to be shot through Jim’s way of perceiving people, social missions, life. In his daily life and along his yearly journey to the city of Edinburgh, Jim encounters numerous people. As a result, the film becomes not only about him but about his network, his chain. A chain the film witnesses along a journey that starts under the influence of a statement: meeting Jim is meeting people. As he introduces people to people, the film introduces people to the audience, and conveys Jim’s unique way of living. The journey of Jim and of the film -which will take place in 2016 between Paris, London and Edinburgh- is just an ordinary journey of an extraordinary man.
(1) from Jim Haynes’ memoir Thanks for Coming! Encore!, published by Polwarth Publishing, Edinburgh 2014