Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Film as Prophecy and Response

ON THE FIFTH NIGHT of the riots in Paris, I was talking to Howard French, a senior writer for the New York Times, who said that it was an "open secret" how bad the ghettos were in France and Europe. So, its not a total surprise that others would have predicted the unrest that ripped Paris in november. La Haine, reviewed on Slate.com by Matt Feeney, is a 1995 film by Mathieu Kassovitz which examines the lives of three young men from a housing project outside Paris, Jewish Vinz (Vincent Cassel), North African Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), and West African Hubert (Hubert Koundré) over a single day during which a near-fatal police beating of a youth has sparked a minor uprising in the projects.
The film, which is only available in European formats is enjoying renewed interest since the riots.

Also out of Paris, "The French Democracy" - the first film that examines the riots. It's a short "machinimaa" - which is a film made out of a video game. It's creator, 27-year-old Alex Chan, lives in Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris that was affected by the violence. "Many French people still don't know or don't want to really understand what happened in their neighborhood," said the young filmmaker, "That's why I chose this ironic title of 'The French Democracy' in order to refer to the fact that the youth prefer to use Molotov cocktails than ballot papers to get heard by the government. In this way in my movie, I try to bring people to think or to understand — not to necessarily forgive — what can push a young person or teenager to act like this." Go here to see the film.


Fanning Flames, Spreading Smoke: Visual Media In Paris Riots
M. Junaid Alam

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