For two years, Sylvain L'Espérance observed Athens as it was shaken by an economic crisis. He filmed those who would not allow themselves to be pushed out of the streets and into social, political, or media oblivion: cleaners from the Finance Ministry pressed up against walls by police shields, demanding the right to return to work; the Roma, who the bulldozers treated just like the ground; ordinary people suddenly made homeless; and those who helped others deprived of access to basic health care. At night, the director accompanied illegal immigrants and refugees, making visible those from whom we avert our gaze. In his film essay, helplessness, anger, and isolation turn into a need for solidarity, a need for change. The Canadian director's elegant, poetic essay revives the spirit of protest, recalling that, in cinema, poetry is perhaps the most revolutionary and radical medium. The filmmaker's most effective weapon is time: in this case, the 285 minutes necessary to "fight through the night."
Directors, whose movies can be found in the Cinema of Protest section, tell us what standing your ground means to them, as artists and citizens.
It's a protest against those who want to control everything, the lackeys and the budget-cut politicians, against the TINA (There is no Alternative) approach, against the oppressors, the mustard gas and the sarin, against Baszszar al-Asad, Trump, Putin, and ISIS - their ally. It's a cry against toxicity, feeling helpless, and against the minor acts of fascism, which corrupt souls, and the fascism propagated by governments, which takes lives. It's opposing the resettling restrictions, on behalf of immigrants; and single mothers; and housekeepers being laid off. It's standing with the unemployed, homeless and incarcerated writers and poets. It's helping the theatrical groups' cry for freedom be heard. It's a protest on behalf of Pier Paolo Passolini, Lav Diaz, Patrick Chamoiseau and Dieudonné Niangouna, Nicolas Klotz and Élizabeth Perceval, Nelly Arcan and Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet and Achille Mbembe, Edward Saïd and Nuruddin Farah, Maurizio Lazzarato and Enzo Traverso, Tasos Livaditis and Aris Alexandrou, Judith Butler and Frantz Fanon, Mahmud Darwisz and Krystian Lupa.
Sylvain L'Espérance is a Canadian director and producer. In his documentaries and film essays, he observes the lives of marginalized groups and people living on the periphery of their own communities, the homeless, workers, immigrants, the unemployed, refugees. His latest film was shot in Greece, which today is giving refuge to many of those filmed in his previous documentaries in Mali. In Standing on the Edge of the World (2012), he observed Africans who got stuck in Bamako on their way to Europe; in Intérieurs du delta (2009), he told the story of a family of fishermen from the Niger delta whose lifestyle was being destroyed by capitalism; while The River Where We Live (2006) was a collective portrait of Malians settling on the banks of the Niger. In his films, the restless spirit ofdirect cinema meets a poetic vision of the world.
2006 Un fleuve humain (doc.)
2009 Intérieurs du delta / The River Where We Live (doc.)
2012 Sur le rivage du monde / Standing on the Edge of the World (doc.)
2016 Pokonać noc / Combat au bout de la nuit / Fighting Through the Night (doc.)