Nos défaites

Our Defeats
Jean-Gabriel Périot
2019

09.02.2019 19:30 Eng. subtitles CinemaxX 4
10.02.2019 14:00 Eng. subtitles Delphi Filmpalast
11.02.2019 20:00 Eng. subtitles Werkstattkino@silent green
17.02.2019 15:00 Eng. subtitles Kino Arsenal 1

94 min. French.

In May and June 2018, Jean-Gabriel Périot collaborated with ten students in a film class at a high school in Ivry-sur-Seine on a project that unites cinema with politics. The students worked both in front of and behind the camera, restaging scenes of strikes, resistance, and labour disputes from films dating from the late 1960s to the late 1970s, including ones by Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Tanner. Nos défaites assembles the results, and adds interviews in which the director queries the students about the scenes they’ve just acted in, about such concepts as “class,” “labour union,” and “political engagement,” about wider social contexts. It’s a simple, yet trenchant setup, affording viewers a glimpse of how a younger generation sees politics and the political cinema of the past. The film also documents the director’s attempts to stir up the students. The conversations vary between encounters in which director and students seem on an equal footing, based on more teacher-like questioning by the never-visible director, and contemplations of revolution in the here and now: the performance of an uprising follows reflection upon the same. Could this lead to one happening for real? (Alejandro Bachmann)

Jean-Gabriel Périot was born in Bellac, France in 1974. He studied visual communication in Nice and Paris and completed a year-long internship at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Périot works as a filmmaker and as an editor. After a series of short films, in 2015 he made his first feature film, Une jeunesse allemande.

What does political action mean today?  

Where do we stand today, in 2018, in France, with regards to politics and the political? If there still exists resistance to the many upheavals in the world – which do not inspire optimism either from an ecological or from a social perspective – this resistance does not offset the feeling of apathy or resignation which seems to define our era.  
NOS DEFAITES was built around this questioning of our contemporary political condition.
To talk about politics in France today, we must to look back at our own history in order to find a point of comparison. When it comes to reflecting on our politics, what other period is as paradigmatic as the events of May 1968 and their aftermath? It was the last revolutionary moment of our history. Or at least it was the last time everyday life was so extensively politicised. 
To talk about politics in France today, rather than address activist, we must look for those whom we expect to be fully aware of the world they live in, of its qualities as well as its faults. That’s why these high school students, youths on the threshold between adolescence and adulthood, struck me as the most interesting interlocutors.

What remains of 1968 and what has disappeared
For this film, I worked with about ten students, who were both the protagonists and the subjects of this film to be. The film presents two kinds of very different materials. Firstly, there’s the remakes, the re-enactments of excerpts from existing films. These excerpts were drawn from films made around 1968. These films were chosen independently of their genre (fiction or documentary), aesthetics and reputations. They range from LA CHINOISE (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard to LA SALAMANDRE (1971) by Alain Tanner, and also include documentaries by independent filmmakers such as the Medvedkin Group or the collectives Arc and Cinélutte. It was the spoken word that led to the choice of film clips.
The excerpts, reproduced identically – same frame compositions, order of shots, soundscape, montage, similar settings, etc. – are acted by the high school students, who bring (back) to life a mode of expression, in terms of the words they use but also the beliefs they articulate.
And it’s here that a form of contradiction emerges, a gap in signification that allows us to question what of 1968 has remained and what has disappeared.
While in some clips the characters are students, in others they are adults (workers, unionists, activists, etc.). In any case, aside from the differences in age and social status between the characters and the students, an entire vocabulary and phraseology that has disappeared is recited by today’s youth. 
In parallel, these clips are intercut with interviews with the high school students. The interviews always had as their starting point the re-enacted clips, and what the student had understood and taken from them, in order to reflect on their relevance in the world that he or she lives in.
The other questions, which were the same in all interviews, probe how they perceive and evaluate the notion of political engagement nowadays.
The main topic of the film is, ‘What is the role of politics today?’ At the same time, NOS DEFAITES is also a film about cinema as a possible space for political as well as poetic expression. (Jean-Gabriel Périot)

Production Frédéric Dubreuil. Production company Envie de Tempête Productions (Paris, France). Director Jean-Gabriel Périot. Cinematography Amine Berrada. Editing Jean-Gabriel Périot. Sound design Laure Artaud. Sound Dana Farzanehpour. With Swann Agha (Swann), Natasha Andraos (Natasha), Ghaïs Berthold-Ourabah (Ghaïs), Jackson Ellis (Jackson), Julie Escobedo (Julie), Rosalie Magnan (Rosalie), Alaa Mansour (Alaa), Marine Rouie (Marine), Floricia Yamondo (Floricia), Martin Zellner (Martin).

Premiere February 09, 2019, Forum

Films

1999: Parades amoureuses / Loving Flirts (1 min.). 2001: Journal intime / Intimate Diary (2 min.), Gay ? (2 min.). 2002: 21.04.02 (9 min.), Avant j’étais triste / Before I Was Sad (2 min.). 2004: We Are Winning Don’t Forget (7 min.). 2005: Dies Irae (10 min.), Undo (10 min.). 2006: Under Twilight (4 min.), Eût-elle été criminelle… / Even If She Had Been a Criminal… (9 min.). 2007: Nijuman no borei / 200.000 Fantômes (10 min.). 2008: Entre chiens et loups / Between Dogs and Wolves (30 min.). 2009: L'art délicat de la matraque / The Delicate Art of the Bludgeon (4 min.). 2010: Les barbares / The Barbarians (5 min.). 2011: Regarder les morts / Looking at the Dead (20 min.). 2012: The Devil (7 min.), Nos jours, absolument, doivent être illuminés / Our Days, Absolutely, Have to Be Enlightened (22 min.). 2013: Le jour a vaincu la nuit / The Day Has Conquered the Night (28 min.), L’optimisme / Optimism (15 min.). 2014: We Are Become Death (4 min.), Si jamais nous devons disparaître, ce sera sans inquiétude mais en combattant jusqu’à la fin / If We Ever Have to Disappear, It Will Be Without Disquiet but We Will Fight Until the End (15 min.). 2015: Une jeunesse allemande / A German Youth (93 min., Panorama 2015). 2017: Un autre jour en France / Another Day in France (1 min.). 2018: Natsu no hikari / Lumières d’été / Summer Lights (83 min.), De la joie dans ce combat / There Is Joy in This Struggle (22 min.), Song for the Jungle (16 min.). 2019: Nos défaites / Our Defeats.

Photo: © Envie de Tempête Productions