Champion for a Day –
A Tale of Winners and Losers

Length: 30 minutes (ARTE theme evening: “Quiz Boom”, 7 Nov. 2002)
“Lucky Housewife Sweeps Up Millions”, “Schoolteacher Stumbles Over 4th Form Quiz Question – A Disgrace to the Entire School” The stuff that new headlines in the tabloids are made of. These days heroes and dimwits are established for their media impact in fractions of seconds: Highlight or blackout! – Winner or loser!  

To be the contestant on a TV quiz show just once: Sybille, 28, and Jean-Pierre, 72, made that dream a reality. Sybille Longlez, 28 years old and single, watches the quiz shows on TV together with her mother. Both join in the guessing.

Jean-Pierre is a “mordu”, as the French would say, a “hard-core fan” who spends nearly every evening at one or the other quiz club where television shows are re-enacted - with questions all their own. Why? “After they forced me into early retirement, I wanted to show those young know-it-alls that I’m not ready for the scrap-heap yet,” says Jean-Pierre.

With Sybille it was her mother who urged her to apply. Every day they watch the quiz show “Questions Pour Un Champion”. Jean-Pierre had applied 7 times already, but in vain. Both of them pass the strict qualification test and assert themselves against over 100 other contestants from all over Belgium. But at the TV studio in Paris the conditions are tougher: Jean-Pierre hardly slept a wink the night before at a hotel. And Sybille’s nerves are shot. Luckily, both of them have someone sitting in the audience to support them.

The feature accompanies the contestants and asks about motivations as it records the preparations made within the family and their circles of friends. We’ll be right with them when they head for the studio, when the contestants get their final briefing, when the personal tensions grow by the hour, right up to the time when someone says: “We’re on air!” – Of course, not completely unobserved...

A documentary feature by Valentin Thurn

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