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Popular Front(s)


When the government decided, in March 2020, to impose a lockdown on the population to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus – as in other countries worldwide – it also brought the mobilisations stirring civil society to an abrupt halt. The country, like other places from Chile to Hong Kong, had been in seething unrest, then all of a sudden everyone was ordered to stay home.

Deprived of the public space, we thought that nothing more could happen to us… no possibility for each to find their place, defend it, lay claim to it. The value of what philosopher Henri Lefebvre dubbed in the 1960s “the right to the city” suddenly became clear to us. Our inner life, our desires and our wants need to be affirmed in the outside world: it’s no coincidence that the main place for venting demands is the street; no coincidence if the powers that be are making the street increasingly inaccessible: its conquest is always the start of a victory of the right to be ourselves and to change ourselves by changing a society and its territory.
The films we have chosen tell the story of citizens reclaiming these places, seizing power over what becomes a space of struggle, but also a place for self-assertion as a group and as an individual. Our programme kicks off with a commemoration of the events in Genoa 20 years ago. The activism of trans people in the feminist revolution, land requisition in Brazil and the occupation of the ZAD (zone to defend) at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the voices of the Yellow Vests and the setting-up of a town hall with no mayor are all visible eruptions of the possibility for a new world, a new atmosphere. These films tell the story of political commitments that require concrete engagement in a here-and-now and a physical confrontation with the stuff of the world (1) at local level.

Catherine Bizern

1. In Barbara Stiegler, Du cap aux grèves, Editions Verdier, 2020.