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Popular front(s)

“Stir yourselves because we’ll need all your enthusiasm. Organize yourselves because we’ll need all your strength. Educate yourselves because we’ll need all your intelligence.”   

Antonio Gramsci gives us an active, optimistic and brave course of conduct “to shelter us from the destruction of human relationships”, in the words of Hanna Arendt, and thus to “shelter us from the destruction of the world”.  Without knowing whether cinema can still serve as a weapon to combat the repression of the weakest and the horrors of war, it seems to keep our fighting spirit alert, as well as our desire for things in common and our ability to think differently. Cinema can be a place of counter-history. For this new edition of Popular Front(s), we have chosen films whose conception seems to blend reflection, political action and memory.

Films where the cinematographic gesture in the face of violence is that of a witness but also one that reconfigures the field of memory, a gesture of sharing new principles of intelligibility. Individually and together.
From the Christians’ commitment to political struggles in Latin America to the story of the Farcs’ reorganisation of the guerrilla in Colombia, we revisit the story of how the Latin American oligarchies use violence to hold onto their privileges. This struggle of the poorest for a harmonious coexistence is also found in the small activist community that set up at the roundabout in Le Tampon on Reunion Island. Here in France, walls are the rallying points for the struggle against the patriarchy, the urban space being more than ever claimed as a space of freedom and the affirmation of a collective revolt.
Throughout the programme, situations mired in the violence of war follow on from each other, creating a shot/reverse-shot effect or rather the dreadful propagation of a disaster that repeats itself. This reminds us of the words of Jean-Luc Godard in Our Music “Why Sarajevo? Because Palestine”. Today it is the story of the siege of Sarajevo and the ways in which filmmakers bore witness to this time that inevitably takes us back to Gaza and its population under the bombs, here and now.  It is the images of the exodus of men and women forced to leave all their possessions and land in Nagorno-Karabakh, expelled by the Azerbaijani army that suddenly concretises the cruel scenes that we know the Gazans are living through.
The war in Palestine. The films we have chosen, one of which was shot just after October 2023 (No Other Land), documents what the Israeli military occupation means; they also recount the Palestinians’ combat against obliteration.  What can cinema do? The question asked by Cahiers du cinéma in their February issue is also ours but is it not a question that each film raises in its own specific way and that it directs not at cinema but suggests that the viewer explore? Popular Front(s) endeavours to create the conditions for this exploration.

Catherine Bizern