Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

The Monolopy of Violence 2020

Un pays qui se tient sage

Directed by David Dufresne

People from all sides of the cultural battlefield confront smartphone footage of the French gilets jaunes protests and the police crackdown they inspired in this intelligent and innovative documentary.

France In English and French with English subtitles
89 minutes DCP

Director

With

Arié Alimi
,
Myriam Ayad
,
Ludivine Bantigny
,
Benoît Barret

Producer

Bertrand Faivre

Cinematography

Edmond Carrère

Editors

Florent Mangeot
,
Théo Serror

Festivals

New York 2020

Elsewhere

This smart and provocative examination of political violence takes an unusual approach to the ‘talking heads’ documentary. The interviewees (who include protestors, police and politicians to journalists and academics) are engaged in dialogue with one another, often in response to large-scale projections of covert smartphone footage of protests and police interventions, though they are not formally identified until the end of the film. Although some give away their sympathies in the course of discussion, for the most part we can only assess them on the strength of their arguments, pro or con or, often, painfully ambivalent.

Those arguments are extremely wide-ranging, from the philosophy of Max Weber (from whose Politics as a Vocation the film draws its title), to the increasing politicisation of law enforcement and stark personal testimony of police brutality. The events described and the nature of the discourse may be deeply rooted in the French experience, but the issues the film confronts and the lessons it offers are troublingly universal.

The Monopoly of Violence is a prime example of a filmmaker employing a simple, powerful template to allow the complexities of a thorny issue to surface naturally. — Andrew Langridge

“This metadocumentary, an annotated assemblage of mainly first-person smartphone videos made during the gilets jaunes demonstrations of 2018 and 2019 by the mixed-media journalist-artist-provocateur David Dufresne... is as significant in its way as the founding film of cinema verité, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s 1961 Chronicle of Summer.” — J. Hoberman, Artforum