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An exercise in solidarity

Our Defeats (Nos défaites)
Regissør: Jean-Gabriel Periot
( Frankrike)

ACTIVISM: The French rebel police's handling of protesters leads to a dramatic change in the attitudes of students at a high school on the outskirts of Paris.


Initially creates Our Defeats an impression that French youth is not very politically oriented. The documentary, which was shown on Berlinale og Visions du Reel in Nyon, a web of personal interviews was done in the period May to June 2018, with students at a high school in Ivry-sur-Seine, a municipality in a suburban area of ​​Paris. To the best of their ability, students answer questions about leftist philosophy (perplexing about having to explain what communism is and what a trade union does), what attitudes they have to strike and resistance (they consider this as irrelevant to themselves and theirs), and about their perspectives on the future (individual and indeterminate).

Periot is formally radical and politically sharp.

The mood is dramatically different from the quivering atmosphere of the universities during the student revolt in 1968 – a natural comparison, as students recreate scenes and read excerpts from contemporary films, such as Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave classic about young Parisian revolutionaries, Chinese Within (1967), and the strike action documentary And yes, yes (1968) by Chris Marker and Mario Marret.

But the story holds so much more – after all, this is a documentary by Jean-Gabriel Periot. It's not many years since the director embarked on making full-length films, but his acclaimed work on "found footage" in short film format spans nearly two decades. He is formally radical and politically sharp – the dramaturgy of his films often facilitates a provocative and unexpected climax, or a subversive reversal. Our Defeats is no exception.

Burning prayer

With their insecurity and distant attitude towards the outside world, the young people we meet do not separate Our Defeats, themselves from teenagers. . .

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Carmen Gray
Gray is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.

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