Topic of the week: Filming struggles in France

The social movement of 1968, which coincided with the rise of the new wave of French cinema whose youngest representatives became politicized, led to the creation of many militant film collectives, such as Iskra created by producer Inger Servollin and the famous filmmaker Chris Marker, with the release of the film A BIENTOT J’ESPERE which follows strikers from a textile factory in eastern France, described as “Brulot” in the press and as a “Communist Film” by the Minister of economic affairs, and banned from national television.

These collectives invented a style and methods of filmmaking and diffusion that created a very prolific genre in the 1970s and expanded their topics to include feminist, LGBT or anti-racist struggles…

The successors of these filmmakers follow the activists of Act-Up from the inside, in Act up, On ne tue pas que le temps by Christian Poveda (1996), or looked back on past struggles such as Les Lip, L’imagination au pouvoir (2007) or Tous au Larzac (2011) by Christian Rouault.

In 2016, a major social movement was formed in reaction to the draft of a law loosening labor rights in France. This social movement will be subject to significant police repression. Numerous films of struggle are then produced, following strikers (Comme des Lions – Françoise Davisse, On va tout pêter by Lech Kowalski who will be arrested for “Rebellion” during the production of the film) or demonstrators (Paris est une fête – Sylvain Georges / L’époque – Matthieu Barrère).

In the fall of 2018, a spontaneous and non-aligned social movement that continues to this day emerges in France: the Yellow Vests movement, which takes up many social demands and initiates many actions and demonstrations on a national scale, during which violent confrontations between demonstrators and police forces are recurring and are widely covered on the social web through videos captured by citizens or journalists. A public debate then arises on the use of violence by the police and on the right to film and publish images of state representatives. It is in this context that David Dufresne confronts demonstrators, police officers and academics with images of police violence and collects their reactions.