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(en) Germany, FAU direkte aktion: REVOLUTION WEARS YELLOW JACKETS - Review of "Yellow Vest Rebellion" By Jona Larkin White (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 18 Jan 2023 08:30:46 +0200

An almost black screen, a section of the Arc de Triomphe can be seen. babble of voices. "Wait..." "We're getting mad, Mr. President. We can't live. We cannot take care of our children. We worked for 40 years." "Is that normal? Why are you ruining us?" "I'm not ruining anyone." "Our pensions have gone down. We live on 1,000 euros." "Don't underestimate us." ---- Next, the canvas shows the writing "Un Peuple". ---- INTIMATE INSIGHTS AND NEOLIBERAL CRITICISM ---- This is how the film of the same name begins, which will be shown in selected cinemas for the first time with German subtitles from January 12th. He accompanies the Yellow Vest riots from the perspective of four activists from the city of Chartres. The visually stunning documentation gets by with just a few comments and briefly recalls the facts at the beginning: Macron's government wants to levy an "eco" tax on fossil fuels. On November 17, 2018, hundreds of thousands of angry citizens demonstrated across France; Activists occupy roundabouts across the country.

So also in Chartres. People stand around the campfire on one of the traffic islands, hold up the French flag and listen to the words of the elected speaker Benoît, who demands justice, the equal distribution of wealth. In an interview he describes his motivation:

At first I looked at the movement with reservations. Because it was about the tax on gas, but what turns me off is poverty. I thought it was a shame people were only protesting about gas.[...]At first I was surprised, then I soon realized that the price of petrol was just the spark. There were many other things behind it. And that's when I thought it was time to get personally involved. For the cause I stand up for: The fight against every form of need and poverty. And the Yellow Vests want the same thing.

Through interviews like these and the accompaniment of four activists, viewers are offered an intimate impression of the movement. The protest is given a face that would not be possible with short media reports. What is particularly pleasing is that the film's heroes are the people who are usually neglected in reporting: people who do not hold high office; People from France suffering from poverty. They know how it feels when there is no money left to fill the fridge on the 10th of the month and they know that they are the broad mass of losers in neoliberal politics, but not defenseless victims.

Without comment, the film shows them organizing, discussing and taking part in activities such as manning the local toll booth. Or when attending events of the "Great National Debate", where they are only asked for their opinion after the official discussion part and have better arguments than the MPs, who have nothing more to say to people affected by poverty than that the only systematic problem there are too few career opportunities and social benefits and the minimum wage are high enough. Thus, while biased and close to the Yellow Vests, Un Peuple contributes to a more complete history as the insurgent side is finally heard too.

I don't drive 100 kilometers every Saturday to fight the police. We are not a violent movement. We are here for our right to demonstrate. It's crazy. People are fed up with all of this. Every weekend: the police against us. It goes on like this.[...]I come to demonstrate in Paris for my demands because I'm worried about my pension, about nature conservation, the planet. Here's what happens every weekend. We don't want that. We want the government to change. Damn it. Government, please change. do something Crap! look at the stones They'll hit me in the head.[...]Am I not allowed to demonstrate? What's his problem? He hit me with his shield! Am I not allowed to demonstrate? Where is he? We were beaten by the police. I haven't done anything. Bloody hell! That's how it is: You don't do anything and you get beaten, tear gassed and they just say, "Get out!"

This is a longer stream of words from the streaming environmental and yellow vest activist Allan, who drives from Chartres to a demonstration in Paris and documents the police violence. Pictures are shown of the devastation. Images of the police beating the people of France. In this way, "Un Peuble" manages to open a debate about the violent riots, instead of attributing the destruction solely to the actions of the demonstrators. A father tells how he wanted to drive back to his two children from a demonstration, told the police and was attacked with rubber bullets. "Imagine what it's like to be tear gassed for six hours.[...]If you were surrounded for six hours, wouldn't you defend yourself?"

Above all, Allan's "Monolog" on the subject of violence is remembered and is more lyrical and stirring than any Jelinek outpouring. Director and cinematographer Emmanuel Gras has a talented eye for capturing epic images, particularly of the Paris riots. By capturing great image compositions, the documentary has a certain art-house character, which fortunately could also attract an educated middle-class audience to the film in addition to the usual left-wing scene. But in contrast to other art house productions, social grievances are not only portrayed in "Un Peuple" for the sake of aesthetic satisfaction, which of course ends in doing nothing. Gras explicitly names the causes of the grievances with the four activists and accuses Macron, neoliberal politics and the unfair distribution of wealth. In addition, it offers an activating solution: self-organization and collective uprising. The last words of the film are the chanting of a demonstrating crowd: "Join us."

A revolution - uprising of the yellow vests. Direction and camera: Emmanuel Gras. France 2022 (Original: Un Peuple).

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