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Spotted from the outset, the weakness of the vast world’s presence in its diversity is confirmed day after day. Nonetheless, throughout the Festival’s various selections, we find a certain number of opportunities to meet descriptions of contemporary situations, outside the Franco-European / North American epicenter.
Unsurprisingly, this news is bad news overall. In addition to the new selection added to the program of the official sections, Cinema & Climate, which aims to highlight the different ways in which films deal with the ongoing environmental disaster, it is above all a question here of the state of societies.
And the question, as it should always be the case with films, relates as much to the ways of making cinema to confront these situations as to the subject as such.
From everywhere, therefore, come stories of crises, dramas, states in dereliction of societies. To account for this, these films are divided between different approaches, with very different consequences.
“La Civil” by Teodora Ana Mihai
Arcelia Ramirez plays the mother-courage of The Civil. | Menuetto
One of these approaches is that of the literal illustration of a discourse which exposes and denounces effectively dramatic situations. So The Civil, by Mexican director Teodora Ana Mihai, featured in Un Certain Regard.
Alongside a courageous mother whose daughter was kidnapped by gangsters, the film denounces the delusional violence of gangs, the widespread practice of kidnappings followed by rape, torture and murder, corruption and the powerlessness of the authorities. , the pervasiveness of violence.
An effective thriller, the film remains in an unequivocal position which ends up making one wonder to what extent the directing uses the spectacular benefits brought to it by the horrors mentioned as much as it denounces them.
«Hit the Road» de Panah
Another approach is the “hollow” evocation. This is what Panah Panahi (Jafar’s son) built with his first film, Hit the Road (at the Directors’ Fortnight).
Accompanying a family on their way to the border to smuggle the eldest son out of Iran, he relies on the extreme or eccentric behavior of the various characters (the father, the mother, the youngest son, and even the dog) to unfold by allusion a context marked by repression and the absence of future prospects.
The stylization, where burlesque and hysterics are mingled, is here a roundabout way of making not only a situation of oppression perceptible, but its effects on citizens.
“Context” by Sergei Loznitsa
Very differently, this hollow work is also what Sergei Loznitsa does with Babi-Yar (Context). The skilfully crafted archival editing with sound concerns as much the reception given to the Wermacht in 1941 by a large number of Ukrainians, or the way in which the Germans and then the Soviets represented this region after having conquered it, as it does the massacre of over 33,000 Jews in the area near Kiev which gives the film its title.
Loznitsa has long been planning a feature film about this tragedy, but what he really conjures up here, and what the addition of (Context) in the title, it is also the resistance of contemporary Ukrainian society to document and commemorate what happened there.
That is to say to inscribe in its history a crime committed by the Nazis but with the consent if not the support of a local population, or at least of a significant number of its members, whose descendants are far from have all renounced a very old anti-Semitism in the region.
“Petrov’s Fever” de Sergei Serebrennikov
Semyon Serzin in one of the favorite activities of his character, around which revolves Petrov’s Fever. | Film Bac
Another way of taking charge of the chaos of the world through cinema is to respond to it with the chaos of production. This is what Sergei Serebrennikov, on a model highly prized by his fellow filmmakers, does with Petrov’s Fever, in official competition.
This artist declared opposing Putin, who had him condemned and forbade him to leave Russian territory, had shown himself infinitely more original and more inspired three years ago with the so beautiful Summer.
This time, to evoke the very real state of dereliction of a Russian society plagued by racism, machismo, violence, alcoholism, kitsch and a form of surly nostalgia for the Soviet era, the director sets off a carnival grotesque and sinister.
This saraband in time as well as in the streets of the city plagued by sad revelers and brutalities of all kinds, from one New Year’s Day to the next, ultimately only duplicates what it aimed to achieve. denounce, as phagocytosed by this human, ethical and aesthetic collapse.
“Le Genou d’Ahed” by Nadav Lapid
Y (Avshalom Pollack) locked in the middle of the desert in the detestation, as understandable as it is destructive, of his country. | Pyramid Films
The way in which generalized situations of destruction of human values also contaminate the form of films is in some respects what is most complexly taken care of. Ahed’s Knee of the Israeli Nadav Lapid, also in competition.
It features a Kafkaesque director baptized Y, the author’s explicit double, whom the accumulation of horrors committed by the leaders of his country with the support of a majority of the population puts in a state of fury that panics the character, and achievement.
This is characterized by a series of paroxysmal and repetitive scenes which proclaim the collapse of the values on which the Jewish state has claimed to be built, both the daily violence inflicted on the Palestinians and the crudeness of the censorship put in place. by the current governments, or the perversions of a fusional communitarianism to the point of making mad, and / or filthy.
But far from posing as an external judge, the director (the character in the film) and the director (of the film) show how much they are affected, or infected by this collapse, the protagonist behaving himself like a surly half-madman. and manipulative, and the camera being at times seized with sort of epileptic seizures, or literally sticking to faces and bodies in an unhealthy proximity, between canibalism and sexual predation.
But if the general meaning of the project is more than acceptable, its implementation suffers from an obsessive systematism which here turns into a limit, if not a counterproductive effect, far from the memorable successes that have been several of the previous achievements of this project. filmmaker, in particular The teacher and Synonyms. As if the urgency of the denunciation no longer became a fuel, but another wall.
“Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege” by Abdallah Al-Khatib
Of all the ways for the cinema to take charge of the dramas and dysfunctions of the world, the most remarkable and the most moving that we have seen on the Croisette is undoubtedly Little Palestine, diary of a siege by Abdallah Al-Khatib, presented by ACID.
Filmed from the inside, it tells how the Yarmouk neighborhood in Damascus, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in the world, was surrounded, starved and bombarded by Bashar al-Assad’s troops following the Syrian popular uprising.
Relentless chronicle of a particularly cruel mass murder within all the crimes of the Baathist regime, and remained almost unnoticed by the international media for four years (2011-2015), despite a few exceptions, the district will then come under the control of Daesh before the crushing of the Islamic State organization in this country.
With the help of other improvised cameramen, and also thanks to a commentary that strikes the right distance between anger, despair and a kind of irony as a condition of survival, the film is not only the chronicle of this terrible siege, where hunger and disease had begun to kill in the middle of the street before the systematization of bombardments with barrels of explosives.
As rarely in the many films shot in Syria during this interminable and tragic war, the sense of space, of the relationship between individuals and the collective, an authentic filmmaker sensitivity make Little Palestine at the same time a document, an indictment, and a song which, alongside a little girl who collects herbs to feed herself, refuses to be only a song of mourning.