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Les trois-quarts de la vie

Three Quarters of a Life
Groupe Medvedkine Sochaux
France 1971

21.02.2020 13:00 Eng. subtitles Kino Arsenal 1
23.02.2020 11:00 Eng. subtitles Akademie der Künste

18 min. French.
(screening together with ON VOUS PARLE DE PARIS: MASPERO, LES MOTS ONT UN SENS and SOCHAUX, 11 JUIN 68)

As the “Medvedkin Group”, a group of workers from Sochaux shot films about their daily lives at work and labour struggles with the support of filmmakers (including Chris Marker). Sochaux, 11 juin 68 is about a militant strike in the Peugeot factory that led to several deaths. But it wasn’t just documentary techniques that were used; Les trois-quarts de la vie also stages the recruitment of workers and daily life in the Peugeot factory with obvious satirical undertones. (ah)

The Groupe Medvedkine de Sochaux was a group of filmmakers founded in 1968, which was active in the eastern French city of Sochaux. The collective consisted of about forty young militant workers from the local Peugeot factory as well as politically committed filmmakers, including Bruno Muel and Chris Marker. The name of the group was chosen as a homage to the work of Soviet director Alexander Medvedkin. Another Groupe Medvedkine was active in Besançon.

Strange Mysteries of Mr Makavejev

Chris Marker and his colleagues from the Paris film cooperative “Slon” attempt to use film as a tool in the workers’ struggle for their rights. Since its founding in 1967, the group has been the producer and distributor of more than 40 political films. The Forum presented five of them.
LES TROIS-QUARTS DE LA VIE, created by young workers at the Peugeot factory, was the most convincing in achieving its goal. Documentary and elements of Grand Guignol combine in a very hard-hitting form that reveals the contradiction between some promises and the actual situation of the workers. All the films work with very simple and scant means: the filmmakers set up their camera directly on the site of events and thereby avoid the stilted pedagogical quality that makes so many attempts at agitprop films fail. The films of “Slon” are likely to reach the target group for which they are shot.

(Ilona Schrumpf, Berliner Morgenpost, 2 July 1971)

“Programme Cooperative”

Once again, the class struggle, the call for solidarity and efforts to let the viewer better recognise society’s class structure – this time from France, where the tradition of the revolutionary struggle is more unbroken than it is with us in Germany. (...)
Wordiness, however, was also the characteristic of the other films in this presentation: the short films from the series “New Society”, which depict “exploitation” with ever-new approaches and call for revolutionary upheaval, were therefore just as little an exception as the third contribution, LES TROIS-QUARTS DE LA VIE, which depicts the working conditions of young workers in the Peugeot factory. They meant well, they attempted to raise agitprop to a higher intellectual level – but word and image still do not mesh well, there is still a gap that is even deepened by the difficult conditions under which the films were usually shot. Nonetheless, they were instructive – but it would be interesting to learn what French workers thought of them.

(Hans-Georg Soldat, Der Tagesspiegel, 2 July 1971. Press documentation 1971)

Director Groupe Medvedkine Sochaux.

Films

1972: Week-end à Sochaux (53 min.). 1973: Le train en marche / Die Kamera in der Fabrik (89 min., with Chris Marker), Septembre chilien / Chilian September (39 Min., with Bruno Muel, Théo Robichet). 1974: Avec le sang des autres / The Blood of the Others (52 min., with Bruno Muel).

Photo: © ISKRA